For someone that spends a lot of time suggesting ideas to writers about what they should do, even with the obvious disclaimers that the methods I use might be completely opposed to your natural workflow, I really have a hard time with people telling other writers how to write.
I know they often come to it from a place of great intentions, but some of the advice feels downright harmful. The post before last talked about the problem with the romantic ideal of being a writer, and based on some discussion I’ve seen around some of the writing groups I frequent, it feels like there’s still more to say.
What I don’t like, is people giving advice that questions why people write. I don’t like when people suggest that the ways they write are the proper way. I don’t like when people are dismissive of the experiences that others have when writing because it doesn’t happen for them.
Fact. Not everyone has them. If you’re lucky enough to have them, don’t tell other writers that it always happens. It doesn’t. I’m lucky in that it happens for me. On the other side of that, if it’s never happened for you, that’s only your experience. It happens for other people. Saying that it can’t happen because you’ve never had it happen for you is wrong.
Ease of Writing:
Fact. Some people find it hard to write. It’s not always a positive experience, and it can be frustrating to struggle with a scene over a few weeks because it just doesn’t work. Some great advice is to knock it out, and come back to it in a subsequent draft. Implying that people shouldn’t write because it’s sometimes hard or angsty is terrible. Writing takes effort. It requires work. It is not always easy. Saying otherwise (and this is again one of the points from that previous post) will encourage people to give up because it doesn’t come natural to them, when some of the most popular of published authors struggle with their books at times. If you always find it easy and enjoyable, that’s great for you, but it doesn’t mean people shouldn’t write if they don’t have the same experience.
Start with a Bang:
Fact. Not every reader is pulled in by a hook. Some readers will find them self-indulgent, and those used to such techniques may be put off by them. There are readers that are happy to explore a world, to learn about it, and experience it before they’re drawn into a point of no return. We’re often encouraged to start with a bang or the penultimate moment of drama and tension from the plot, yet not everyone will respond to it. Write something that would draw you in.
Pants or Plan:
Fact. Not every writer needs a plan. Those that plan may not see how they could accomplish the same novel without a length planning process, and each writer has their own preferred level of detail for that plan. Anything more will feel excessive, and anything less will feel careless. To contrast though, those that write without a plan might feel as though doing so would hamper their creativity, and encourage people to not use one. Neither way is wrong. You may wish to try one or the other to see how you do with it, but it’s a personal choice.
Fact. Not every writer requires a detailed history of a world to write in it. Exploratory writing will allow them to uncover details about the world that they’ve only imagined in glimpses. If a writer develops a detailed history, that can benefit them, but the major point of importance in a world is that it assists the story. It’s often said that anything not
Fact. I come at every bit of advice with bias, about what works for me. It may be entirely useless to 90% of people, but I’m sharing it because it may help some, and I love writing. I like to encourage people with an interest in writing to do it, and offer my support and advice in the hopes they’ll find it encouraging.
Fact. If you exist and you write, you’re a real writer. If you do it using a handwritten notebook, a laptop, a desktop, a tablet, or other means… if you do it for fun, fame or fortune… if you do it, you are a real writer. Any talk about what real writers do or don’t do, what they eat, drink, listen to, how they sleep, how they interact with people, what pets they own, where they write, how old they are, or basically any other thing that could be used to describe a person… it’s all a load of crap. If you write, you’re either real or you’re fictitious. Some of us may also be pretty unreal, but that’s different 😉