Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Here’s Some Advice For You…

If you google writing advice you’ll come up with thousands and thousands of articles, workshops, books and videos. You can literally spend all your time learning how to write and never write a single word. But what far to few of these articles mention is that there is no one right way. If someone tells you there is, run screaming in the other direction.

The truth is there are a dozen different ways to approach any aspect of writing, from generating your ideas, to getting them on paper and to revising your novel. And most of them are fabulous, but they might not be right for you. The key is not finding that one perfect formula, but rather adapting different techniques until you find the ones that work for you. There is no magic wand, no catch-all answer.

I always get annoyed when I see workshops or books that claim to teach you all the tricks you need to know. Because that’s impossible. And I’m sure their authors and organizers are lovely, wonderful people with great intentions who are just sharing what works for them. Which is fine. But don’t think that is what you HAVE to do.

The best advice anyone can give you is to try lots of different things. Try just writing (with no outline). Try loose outlining. Try rigid outlining. Try the snowflake method. Try using index cards. Try all those things until you find the one that unlocks your creativity and makes your muse purr. And then run with it.

And remember, a technique that works for you on this novel, might not be the right approach for your next one. Be open to trying new things because as a writer, you’re always growing. You don’t want your writing to stagnate and sometimes trying something new is all it takes to help you leap forward.
One last word about writing advice - don’t get so bogged down in reading how-to’s that you don’t actually write. That fabulous novel in your head will never be sitting on anyone’s bookshelf if you don’t get it down on paper first. Sometimes I think we writers use writing workshops, books and articles as an excuse to avoid actually writing. Or perhaps I’m the only one who falls into that particular rut.

I’ll leave you with the one piece of writing advice I do think is universal. Read widely and frequently, in your genre and outside. Writers should be readers first.

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