Writing Advice

Any writer who wants to get anywhere is willing to learn. It’s part of the process. If you think you’re the best and never try to get better, you’re on a path to failure.

But there’s so much advice out there, and some of it conflicts.

I constantly hear, “write what you know.” A great piece of advice for fiction writers, but what about sci-fi and fantasy?

Here “write what you know” becomes more about character development. No, you’ve probably never been on a space ship (if you have I’d love to talk to you). I doubt you’ve ridden a dragon, or played with fairies. But that’s where imagination comes in. You still need to write realistic reactions that pertain to your own experiences.

My favorite lately is “write for yourself, don’t worry about your readers.” I completely disagree with this. If you’re writing only for the enjoyment and don’t care about sharing your story with others, then why try to publish?

Publishing is about connecting with the reader. If you know who your audience is, you can write with more energy funneled from their positive encouragement. Now, you can’t constantly worry about what reader will think as you write, you’ll go mad if you do that. But it’s good to know that the story you’re shaping has more purpose than just getting it out. Thus we often hear, “a writer is nothing without their readers.”

We also hear, “write everyday.” That may work for some, but a great deal of us need to let the writing tank refill before we can create new material. Some writers write everyday, and some have to live a  bit before they sit down to weave a tale.

Think of quality versus quantity. If you write everyday, but junk about 2/3 of what you write, is that really productive? Maybe for some. If you write a couple of times a week and trash the same amount, then sure. But a good number of us write better when we’re not forcing it.

That brings me to the most annoying one. “Keep a word count.” I am so sick of hearing this. I love writers who constantly post how many words they wrote today, or yesterday as if it’s a merit badge (is my sarcasm coming through). If that works for you, go ahead. Do it.

But when I edit I have to delete so many words that keeping a count seems pointless. I’d rather keep a count of words I’ve published, but I don’t because that doesn’t seem to do much for me. I don’t write to feel productive, I write to feel alive. To examine my experiences, and the human experience in general.

My piece of advice, do what works for you. We’re all different, that’s why our stories have such a wide range. Take the advice that inspires, and leave the rest behind. I’m no expert. And anyone who claims to be is selling something.

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