Some advice on taking advice from the overly advised

Want to know how to write? Google it. Seriously. There are thousands (at least) of sites out there with lists of advice for getting published. Do this. Don’t do this. Make an outline. Just write. Don’t let anyone read it right away. Have reading partners as you go. Write every day. Feel free to take a day off. Write in the morning when you first get up. Write at night. Write until you are out of ideas. Stop when you want to keep going. Start your story in the thick of the action. But not too much action. 25 ways to be a better writer. 50 tips from published writers on writing. 72 fail-proof ways to get a crappy first draft done. And the books. Oh, you can buy books upon books on how to write a book. And probably on how to write a book about how to write a book. It’s like bookception. Also, how not to write a book, which is a whole new form of mind blowingness.

(I’m totally making up a lot of words today. It’s because I’m a writer, which is synonymous with “wordsmith,” which I’m pretty sure means the smithing of words, which I’m pretty sure gives me permission to make up whatever words I want. But I digress…)

I am guilty of trying to consume every bit of writing “advice” out there. Twitter is bursting with these lists, posted by agents and literary agencies and my favorite authors, and if they say the lists are good, they must be good, right? RIGHT???

And then I get sucked into that black hole. You know the one. Where there is no possible way to follow every bit of advice, so you follow none of it, trash your work in progress, throw your laptop across the room, and set fire to it. (The fire setting thing was much easier when writing was done on paper, but that’s a story for another time.)

There comes a point where you really have to stop listening to what everyone else says and listen to what works for you. One of the “rules” of writing I have learned is that there are no rules. There are suggestions, that it may be in your best interest to follow, but for every “rule,” there are a hundred (or more) exceptions.

So don’t be like me, fellow writers, reading list after list on your iPhone, curled into a ball, gently rocking to the melody only you can hear. Consider instead the words of Anne Enright: “The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.”

Break the rules. Go against all the advice. Be deliberately oppositional towards every suggestion you’ve ever heard. Just as long as you are writing.

That’s my advice. Take it or leave it. 😉

But seriously, you should probably take it.

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