I still see lists of writing advice and the ensuing arguments over it. So I want to put in my two-cents worth here with mine:
1) Writing advice is not the law of the land. Someone can yell at you for breaking said writing advice but they can’t throw you in jail for it.
2) Writing advice is just what has worked for someone and is shared in the hope that it will help others. This is why I do it. If it’s done for an ego-stroke, be sure to wash your hands after reading it.
3) Basic rules of spelling, punctuation, and grammar are not bad. They are fluid and change over time. Don’t be afraid to change and if someone doesn’t like that, just walk away from them.
4) Don’t try to write like anyone else. Find your own your voice and write in your own way. The best writers are the ones with the most unique voices.
5) Criticism can be a valuable tool, but only if it’s not an axe that’s being ground on your back.
6) You don’t have to write every single day. There will be days where life gets in the way, or you just can’t get any words out. Remember, there’s always tomorrow.
7) Don’t be afraid to scrap something and start over. Nothing ever comes out perfect and sometimes it’s best to start over on a blank page.
8) Being a writer doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk about it. The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing, especially writing time or anything writing-related.
9) Writing is a ton of editing most of the time. Complain about it if you will, but don’t stop until you get it right.
10) Writing can be taught, but only if you’re willing to learn and do the work on your own.
No, wait—the creation of Writers Unite! five years ago was not so momentous to warrant a quote from President Abraham Lincoln. However, the group has had an impact on a large community of writers.
In October of 2015, a few writers, tired of writing groups that offered no writing advice, only social gatherings, decided to create a group named Writers Unite! as a haven for writers to present their work and discuss writing without harsh words or ridicule. Respect and support for each other and the writing process is the group’s goal.
Five years have now passed, and we have certainly had our share of growing pains. Our insistence on keeping WU!‘s focus on the writing process and not self-promotion, we hope, has given writers a place, a haven as described, to share their work and improve their skills by helping each other.
We strive to provide fun, entertaining, educational articles, workshops, and writing prompts to help novice and experienced writers hone their skills. WU! also offers a public Facebook page for non-members and a web presence where we showcase our members’ writing, offer workshops, and members’ guest posts. Our efforts are to help members drive more traffic to their social media and, hopefully, their work.
WU! also sponsors an anthology series to provide members the opportunity to learn the publishing process and become published. The response to the calls for submissions for the anthologies has been exceptional, and we are publishing our fifth anthology, Dimensions of Paranormal, this month. Submissions for our sixth anthology, Dimension of the Wild West, are underway.
As we approach 75,000 members, I remember back to the early days when we were worried we would even get one hundred members. We have certainly surpassed that. Our growth has been phenomenal, and we are fortunate to have support along the way.
There are many people to thank for making Writers Unite! a success. A special note of thanks has to be to Paul W. Reeves, who joined WU! in 2016, and shortly after, asked if we would like to appear on his radio show, “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk,” which at the time was on a terrestrial station in Detroit, Michigan. At the time of our first appearance on the show, WU! had 6600 members. By the time we made our third appearance within three months on the show, we had grown to 23,000 members. With no other marketing efforts to account for the growth, Paul’s show gave Writer’s Unite! a boost among his international listeners. With that growth rate, Facebook’s algorithms kicked in, and we have seen steady growth since then.
Now with his internet radio station, Impact Radio USA, Paul, also a group admin, continues to highlight Writer’s Unite! and many authors (some members) on both “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” and “Impact Interviews and Music.” We are grateful for his continued support.
As the longest-serving admin for the group, I want to say unequivocally, this group would not be successful without the admin team in place. I cannot begin to explain how hard these admins work to keep this group running smoothly. It would take an exceedingly long post to list their accomplishments individually, but I must single out Lynn Miclea for her exceptional dedication to publishing the anthologies. Her expertise in editing and formatting is invaluable. To the rest of the team, Michele Sayre, Jessica Fisette, Stacy Smith, and Paul, thank you. Your dedication and support for Writers Unite! means everything. All hours of the day or night, they are willing to help.
However, there is one more team member, and that team member is more valuable than all.That member is you. Each of you, who as members, post, teach, mentor, discuss (okay, maybe debate at times), and create the value that makes Writers Unite! unique. Take a bow, you deserve it, and without you, this wouldn’t be fun.
As admins, when you tell us that in any way this group has given you the support or knowledge that has spurred you to write, complete a novel, or publish, you have made us proud. We don’t want accolades. Your success is enough.Thank you again for making this a fun, exciting, and quick five years. Here is to completed works and happy publishing.
The Admin Team
“Writers Unite!” Mission Statement: To provide inspiration, instruction, and promotion for writers of all levels of expertise.
“Writers Unite!” Vision Statement: To provide a haven for writers as they hone their craft.
This two-word phrase came to me as I sat down to write a series of blog entries and got through three of them before a massive sinus attack hit me. But the phrase stayed in my mind and when that happens, I sit down and listen to it and figure out where it came from.
For the longest time, I have felt like when I sit down to write that I should be doing something else. What else should I be doing if it’s not urgent or can wait? That’s a good question and one I think involves the ever-present yet not-quite-real ‘someone’. Yes, the dreaded ‘someone’ who is so persistent in asking stupid questions like:
“Why are you writing? Shouldn’t you be doing something else?”
Now in the past I would have bent my head in shame and said, “Yes, I should be doing something else.” And then I would have found something else to do.
Now I stand tall and proud and say, “No. I am a writer and writers write.”
I know all too well there are a lot of people who call themselves writers yet don’t write, or write near as often as they should. They seem to love the idea of being a writer and being seen as a writer, but they’re not willing to put in the work. The problem with these wannabe’s as I call them is they are really good at projecting their perceived superiority over those of us who write and rewrite and edit until our brains turn to slime and slide out of our ears.
Don’t listen to these wannabe’s. You don’t have to in order to be polite and not hurt their feelings. They didn’t think twice about hurting yours by tearing you down so you don’t owe them anything in return for that. No, this is not being mean. This is about standing up for yourself and your work.
My late father once said to me: “Most people need to be told what to do and when to do it. You’re not one of them.”
You don’t have to be told what to do and when do it if that’s not the situation you’re in. Being a writer means being your own boss so be the boss you’ve always wanted to have. My inner boss would tell me right now to run with this idea and see where it goes. She’d tell me chores can wait (trust me, dust bunnies are the worst squatters around). And if you’ve eaten food, have something to drink, and you’ve been to the bathroom, you can sit down and write.
Writers write so they have words to revise because you can’t revise and edit a blank page. You can’t rewrite something if you haven’t something already. Writing, rewriting, editing, and revising are how word are polished to a shine and crafted to solid precision. But you can’t make something from nothing so you need to get the words down and if you have to, tell yourself no one is perfect. And not being perfect is more than okay. ‘Wannabe’s’ and ‘Someone’s’ will tell you in their own insidious ways that your work will never amount to anything, or that you should know better to begin with, or anything that makes them feel superior.
You don’t write for ‘wannabe’s’ or ‘someone’s’. You write for yourself first and foremost. You don’t write to anyone else’s expectations but your own. You have to take charge of your work and make it your own. Remember when it comes to your writing, you’re the boss of it. You write the words, not them. You edit and revise, not them. And since you’re a boss who does your own work, you can also do your own research and find the answers to your own questions.
If you have to, tell yourself this every time you can. Because if you hear this enough, you’ll start to believe it. And once you believe it, you’ll do it.
I want to be a writer, but I don’t know how or where to start.
Yes, I’ve seen and heard this said by people for many years. And for anyone who has said that, I may have some answers for you. Though I do want to say right here and now, I didn’t say that at all when I started writing thirty-six years ago. I just picked up a spiral notebook and a pencil and began to write.
How did I know to do that? Simple. I knew what I wanted to write, which back then was poetry that I could turn into song lyrics. Sadly that dream didn’t come to fruition because I couldn’t find an Elton John to my Bernie Taupin. So I moved on and decided I wanted to be novelist then later on through my high school years, a screenwriter. After high school, I kept up with the screenwriting for a couple of years then went back to novel writing. Now I’m working on my novel, three book-length non-fiction projects, short article-essay type pieces like this one, the occasional poem, YouTube video, and short stories.
So now that you have my background let’s get back to the statement that started it all:
I want to be a writer.
Why? And I’m not being mean by asking that. I can understand if you’re not quite able to articulate your answer clearly just yet but you should have some idea as to what inspired you to want to be a writer. Because if it was just a thought out a thin air that sounded good, well you’ve got some work ahead of you here if you want to make that a reality.
I wanted to be a writer because I loved to read and I love words. I also have an overactive imagination and a brain full of thoughts and feeling. I discovered writing was a great way to get all that out of my head like other writers have done since the advent of writing.
But I don’t know how, or where to start.
This is actually doable though to get good at writing will take a lot of work. Some people are naturally gifted verbal storytellers but on paper, or in a digital format like most writers use today, not so much. But in order to know where to start, you do need to know why you want to in the first place. And also, you need to figure out what you want to write. Is it stories? Poems? Essays? You don’t have to stick to one thing and yes, you can do more than one thing at a time though I strongly encourage you to finish something before moving on to the next project. Whatever you decide to write should be something you want to do because if you’re making a conscious choice to write, you’re doing it for yourself first and foremost.
The ‘how’ part is just a lot of work. Basic writing should start with basic grammar, punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure, which hopefully you will learn in your basic education in school. You can also find lots of books, articles, and even YouTube videos on the many aspects of writing. But in addition to studying, you’ll have to write. And keep writing, and learn how to edit, revise, rewrite, and keep doing it until you find the flow as I call it. And know there will many times where your words won’t flow out of you. When that happens, you’ll have to figure out a way to work through that.
My advice is don’t write for attention, approval, fame, glory, or to get a date. Trust me, writing doesn’t work like that. Successful writers write because they want to, they believe in what they do and they’re willing to put in the work to get good at it.
Many years ago when I started writing, if I had announced with joyful abandon that I wanted to write people would have said this to me in total seriousness with absolutely no joy: “Great, kid. Now get to work.” Back in those days, if you wanted to be taken seriously you had to put in the work. You had to study, practice, and really keep at it. Today… not so much to my chagrin.
Frankly, I’ve always been puzzled by people who just think they can dash off words and expect instant gratitude and adulation. Legends in their own mind, I guess. But trust me, past a certain point, they won’t have the long and storied careers of best-selling authors. Whether or not I’ll ever hit a best-seller list remains to be seen but it won’t be because I didn’t work my tail off to try and hit it with the best work I can produce.
So you want to be a writer.
Great. Now get to work because in the end, it’s the writing itself that matters most, not the title of ‘writer’, or just wanting to be one.
Ever since I started writing, I’ve seen the term ‘writer’s block’ argued in one of two ways: either it’s real, or it’s not.
For me, it’s real. I know what it’s like to sit down and not be able to write a single word. I know what it’s like to have a million thoughts and feelings running through my mind and not be able to grab a hold of a single one of them. I know what it’s like to have the words in my head and not be able to write them down. And I know what an enormous struggle it can be to get a few words down in a desperate attempt to write only to delete those words altogether.
The reasons and causes of writer’s block have been debated forever but for me I’ve been blocked by either intense emotional struggles, or my mind is just overloaded with a raging storm of thoughts, feelings, and words. Either way is very hard to work through and though I understand both scenarios better than I ever have, I still remember what it’s like to go through them, and I know either one can happen to me again.
I have always wanted to be one of those writers who could write through anything but sadly my writing, unlike my sleeping ability, doesn’t work that way (there’s an old joke from my family that I can sleep through anything- insane heat and humidity, riots, and possibly nuclear war though I have doubts about that last one). But during times of huge and intense emotional struggle and upheaval, writing has been the last thing I’ve even thought about doing. Well, I thought about it but in reality I was either too exhausted to sit down and try to find my words, or worse, I felt intense guilt and fear for even wanting to make that little bit of effort.
As a woman, I have always felt there were more demands on my time than for a man. For example, my father could be loud and pushy about his writing time but I feel like if I had done that I would have been landed on so hard I would have to have been peeled up off the floor. Later on, I knew there were people who felt my pursuit of writing was foolish, selfish, and a complete waste of time simply because the meager amount of time I did take to write made me unavailable to them whenever they wanted me to be. I know now that I had every right to time of my own but that’s in hindsight. Back then, that overwhelming guilt and fear of pissing people off kept me blocked more times than I ever want to admit to.
In the years since those difficult times, I’ve struggled to write because of an avalanche of thoughts, feelings, and words that have raged like a category-five hurricane inside my mind. I know now this was just fallout and the silence after a raging battle that was like a huge echo of noise, but this raging storm took every ounce of energy I had to work through it. But I know I needed to work through those personal storms to get to where I’m at today.
So for any writer reading this who’s been blocked, who has sat down to write day in and day out and gotten nothing written, it’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It means your human and you’re not perfect. Don’t let anyone try to take you on a guilt-trip you don’t need to take for this. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about yourself for going through writing times like this. Because in my thirty-six years of writing I can tell you from my personal experience ‘writer’s block’ is real. And most of all, you have to find a way to work through it no matter how long it takes.
Don’t give up on your writing when this happens because after a storm there is always calm and eventually, the echoes of those storms will fade and you’ll be able to breathe, think, and feel again. And yes, the words will come to you. And if anyone doesn’t understand that, walk away from them and do your dead-level best to banish their words from your mind. Those words are like a poison you need to get out of your mind and guard yourself against. When it comes to writing, focus on yourself and tell yourself you’re not selfish for pursuing it when you have the time and the energy to do so.
Writer’s block is real like a storm is real, like your thoughts and feelings are real. But like all storms, eventually, it will come to an end. You’ll learn from each storm and grow stronger every time because of that. And most of all, believe in yourself and you’ll find your words again, and they’ll be better than before.
A Thousand Words (give or take) – Writing From Different Places
By Michele Sayre
First, I’ve retitled my blog yet again because the title I had before was a bit limiting. But it wasn’t just the title I was having trouble with.
For the last three and a half years I’ve been wanting to write book-length non-fiction and also shorter non-fiction pieces like blog entries and essays. Yet I couldn’t stay with that type of writing and I’ve been trying to figure out why. I knew I was coming to non-fiction from a very personal and emotional perspective but I wasn’t quite aware that I write from a completely difference place inside of me unlike how I write fiction and poetry.
Here’s how I figured out I write from two different places inside me.
With fiction, I write from a place of excitement born from my imagination and inspiration. When I get an idea for a fiction story, I get really excited. My heart pounds and my nerves hum and all I want to do is write the story. I don’t plan our plot out my stories and yes, I get bogged down and even driven nuts by that. But it’s still a place of excitement even when the story is emotionally gut-wrenching.
With non-fiction, I don’t feel that excitement at all. I don’t feel my heart pounding and my nerves humming in anticipation. I write non-fiction sometimes starting out with a weigh on my chest that almost makes it hard for me to breathe. I write it sometimes on the edge of bawling my eyes out. I write it thinking so hard my brain almost hurts and my eyes cross and burn.
With fiction I feel great joy in telling a story. Sometimes I feel like a kid sitting down to hear a story read to me, or opening a book for the very first time, or sitting in a darkened movie theater. It’s a need and an intense desire to be a part of that rich storytelling tradition.
With non-fiction, it’s about getting my emotional baggage out of my head and a ton of difficult thoughts in order. It’s a need to share, but not from a place of joy like fiction. And this has been a hard realization for me, but a much-needed and very welcome one for me, too. This realization has lifted a big weight off my shoulders I’ve been trying to lift for a long time. Knowing I write non-fiction from a different place inside me and that it’s not a joyful one helps me understand it’s okay to feel like I do about it. It also tells me I’m okay in not working on the non-fiction all the time because if I did I’d probably go clear around the bend to crazy-town. I thought it was because they were big projects with a lot of moving parts but it’s what I have to think and feel in order to write them.
Writing is like falling down a rabbit-hole into Wonderland sometimes with all its’ assorted pitfalls and weird shit to deal with. For me, understanding why I write what I want to has been a big part of my life over the four years. I say I have a complicated relationship with writing and not just because I’ve been doing it for so long, and not just because of how I started, but because of what it’s led me to.
I’ve written a lot of stuff over the last four years that’s been very intense and emotional as hell for me. I’ve shared some of it but most of it has been trashed as I’ve deemed it too raw and unfocused. I see it was now just me venting off excess thoughts and emotions because I know as a writer I can’t just rant-and-rave on the page and edit the crap out of it to get something meaningful. For me, there has to be focus in what I put out there. I’m very good with fiction now in terms of staying on track so now I’ve just got to figure out how to do that with my non-fiction work.
And another thing that’s interesting is how I write poetry. That’s a bit of mix between that humming energy of fiction with the weight of non-fiction. My poetry comes out pretty fast and then I edit it down from there. It flows pretty quickly out of me but it’s almost like I’m desperate to get it out of me.
I think a lot of writers would refer to my difficulties in writing as ‘writer’s block’, and I think that’s a valid term here. I’ve never dismissed the term ‘writer’s block’ as I know that there are times when a writer can’t write and they have to figure out why. Stepping away from the keyboard and going inside your head, especially into the storage unit as I call it, isn’t easy. But like I’ve said before, it’s more than worth it.
I feel better now having written this out. I feel a weight coming off me and a clarity that is sharper than before. I’ve had a lot of these moments of clarity as I call them over the last four years or so and though this one doesn’t have me jumping for joy, I’m grateful for it.
About Michele Sayre:
Writer of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Native Texan, Uber-driver, taco lover, mom to chonky cat and diva dog.
I see so many people in writer’s groups ask how do I write and where do I begin?
The better question to ask is this: why do you want to write in the first place?
Is it because you love to read and want to write stories from your own imagination?
Is it because you feel you have something you want to share with other people and maybe help them?
Because in order to figure out how to write and where to begin, you have to know why you want to write in the first place. When I first started many years ago, it was a combination of an overactive imagination and a love of stories that I wanted to share. Now it’s about sharing my own life stories in the hope that it will help other people in addition to sharing stories from my imagination.
And how do I do that?
I sit down and write with whatever materials I have to work with. Many years ago when I was young, I started out writing with paper and pencil, then I graduated to a typewriter, then a word processor, and finally a laptop computer. I knew early on that I had to put the words down then edit them until they flowed as well as I could make them flow. Also, I knew I had to research things on my own and back when I started writing those many years ago, the internet didn’t exist at all.
I will freely admit here I’ve always been, and still am, baffled by people who seem to have decided one day out of the blue to take up writing. Maybe they see it as a hobby like knitting or woodworking where you just pick up some tools and materials, read some books or watch videos, then make your projects. The thing with writing is that you can pick up things like paper, pencils, or computers, and you can read books about writing and watch videos. But writing isn’t a pre-made project you can make from a book or a video. It’s something you have to create from scratch. You have to come up with the words to say what you want to say in order to tell your stories.
You have to make your own decisions as to what to write and how to write. And if you’re afraid of upsetting someone or someone not liking what you write, that’s something you’re going to have to work through. You can’t please everyone with everything you write so you have to learn not to write with that in mind at all. You have to be independent and motivated by your own need and desire to create.
No one knows everything, especially about writing. Writing is a constant learning process that keeps it from being boring though it can make things frustrating, too. I know very well this world we live in isn’t perfect, that I’m not perfect, and I’m certainly not a perfect writer. But there is no need for perfection at all, even in writing. Because what works for one person and makes them fall in love with what they read will leave another person completely out in the cold.
So for me, being an independent person with an overactive imagination has benefited me greatly as a writer. Yet it has made it hard for me to understand why people want to write when they don’t seem to have much of an imagination to begin with, or be independent enough to think and try solve their problems on their own. Maybe it was because when I started writing I didn’t have the internet to reach out to people or instant resources to access. But even if I’d had instant access to people and information back then I seriously doubt I would have used that access a lot. Because despite all that’s available now in the end, a writer still has to write their words.
Words will not always flow smoothly or easily. In fact, more often than not it will be a struggle to get something out. Sometimes something comes out very smoothly for me but then I have to go back and edit stuff out because although it’s good, it’s not on track. But I’m not afraid to just write knowing full-well I’ll have to go back and edit. If that’s something you have an issue with, that’s something you’ll have to work through in order to write, too.
For me, writing isn’t a popularity contest. And it’s not something I do to prove a point or anything along that line. I do it because despite all its’ difficulties, I love it. I love it when my words come together and reach people. I love being a part of a community that’s been there throughout the ages sharing stories. And because I believe in a quote from the television show ‘Doctor Who’:
“In the end, we’re all stories. So make it a good one.” (written by Stephen Moffat)
(television show originally created by Stephen J. Cannell)
Over the last three days I’ve begun to get a handle on the ‘Breaking Radio Silence’ project and damn it feels good. Granted, I’m only into the first chapter but I can see where it’s going. The writing is rough and there will be a lot of editing down the road but since I’ve never written book-length non-fiction before, it’s a good start. I’m not feeling the twinge-thought of ‘Oh, I’m not too sure about this’ and here’s why:
It’s not just the fact that I’ve got some structure points to use as writing prompts, but also because I’ve told myself length doesn’t matter. I know I shouldn’t have thought about length at all in this early stage of writing but sadly, the dumb thought crept into my mind and stayed until I kicked it out again.
The writer Annie Lamont wrote that you have to give yourself permission to write crap sometimes. I take exception to the word ‘crap’ because I don’t feel the need to label rough and unedited writing as crap. Because as my favorite romance writer Nora Roberts said, ‘You can’t revise a blank page.’ And because you have to have words to revise, I don’t believe all words written are crap. They just need to be revised and edited so my saying here is this: ‘You can always revise later.’
I also feel like I don’t know if a particular direction in my writing will work until I write it out. Because last night I was looking at my first chapter on my novel and realizing the way I’d worked the first scene wasn’t the way to go. I saw that when I thought about what I needed in the next scene. So needless to say I deleted lots of words and now need to write it back to what I’d done before. This happened because I’d let doubt creep into my mind and thought I had to do something a certain way. But in the end, I know my initial instinct on this was right.
So why do writers get doubts like these in our minds?
We’re human, and prone to messing up like everyone else would be the first line of defense-answer here. Which is why I know of writers who try to isolate themselves as much as possible from any outside influences when they’re writing. We sometimes refer to this as retreating into the writing cave and with good reason. But retreating there won’t get you away from the thoughts pinging around inside your mind. Hence the reason for thought-cleansing mantras that are more than just good advice.
I’ve said this before but I won’t apologize or call myself ten grades of idiot for saying it yet again. I honestly don’t think I was mistaken in writing stuff I’ve later deleted, because I wouldn’t have known if it was good or not until I wrote it. You can’t judge whether or not something will work if there isn’t something there in front of you to begin with.
For something to come together, you’ve got to do the work, make mistakes, and go off in directions that don’t always work for you. And if anyone, even if it is the doubt-demon in your mind says otherwise, don’t listen to them because they’re not the ones doing the writing and revising.
Or to reply to Colonel Hannibal Smith above: they’re not a part of your plan and they’re not going to make it come together.
I’m sure there is someone out in this world who would love to slap my mouth shut for putting those three words together in today’s blog title. But sometimes I feel like all I see when it comes to writing is finding the motivation and inspiration to write instead of complete works of writing instead.
So in response to all that glorious writing motivation and inspiration I say this:
You don’t have to write.
I know you may feel like if you don’t write your brain is going to explode or all your wonderful ideas and stories will just die with you and take a few million years to regroup from the stardust of your demise. But that’s not going to happen because you felt like you had to write, but because you went out and wrote then edited the crap out of what you wrote till it shined like a clean toilet.
I write despite all the bullshit that comes along with it. But I refuse to be all high-and-mighty and lofty and say ‘I have to write’. No, for me it is a conscious choice to park my butt and write the words and edit the crap out of them before I share them with the rest of the world.
For me it’s never been about having the need to write, but wanting to do it. It’s wanting to see the words hit the page, wanting to push myself to sharpen them to the brightest points, and hearing their truth not just inside my head, but with my own ears, too.
I know I don’t have to be in the perfect mood to write. I know my mind can be a mess and most of all, I know it doesn’t have to be set in a certain way. I can write in a flying-hot good mood, or in a dark and cold pisser of a mood. And I can always edit until I get it to where it flows the way I want it to. I don’t have to kill my darlings but instead keep at them until they make it out of the jungle of my mind.
I don’t need a room of my own, or a lot of time, either. And as for the thoughts that question the worth of my words and whether they’re good enough for others to see, bullocks to them. I know someone out in the world won’t like me and what I write, but I’ve kept on going despite being told that in more variations than I care to admit to. Every day I feel like I’m learning more and more how to kick that crap out of my way even when it keeps coming into my path.
So if you’re looking for any writing inspiration from me I’ll tell you one thing: write because you want to, and never mind the bullocks that comes along with it.
I don’t believe in writing ‘rules’ because there aren’t any. There are NO laws governing writing because even ‘rules’ on grammar and usage keep changing over time. What doesn’t change is the infinite variations on the writing process based on individual writers and their need to communicate with the written word.
But if I have to impart any advice to writers it would be the following:
1) Don’t write to perfection. There will be a few but very rare times when something comes out the first time and doesn’t require any significant editing. Most of the time, your writing will require multiple rounds of editing to make it work well.
2) Remember, you can always revise later. As one of my all-time favorite authors Nora Roberts once said, “You can’t revise a blank page.” Get it down first so you can revise and edit. Because revisions and edits are a fact-of-life with writing.
3) Edit and revise but don’t beat the crap out of yourself in the process. I know so many writers who write and edit while beating themselves up at the same time. Yes, there are times when you’ll read something and not have any idea what you were trying to say. But unless you were writing drunk, high, or seriously messed-up, cut yourself some slack.
4) Try to understand that writing is purely subjective. What one person likes someone else won’t. Accept that as a fact of life and try to figure out what it is that works, or doesn’t work for you.
5) Writing days can be up and down. Some days the words will flow out of you like a water tap turned on full. And sometimes it will be a trickle. And some days the tap will be dry. Yes, you can push yourself but if the writing isn’t flowing, you might need to take a step back to try and figure out why.
6) Don’t adhere to absolutes with writing. For some writers, adverbs don’t work at all and for some writers they’re good friends that can be very useful. Personally, I don’t have a problem with adverbs though I do make sure they serve a purpose and aren’t just marshmallow fluff.
7) Don’t compare yourself to other writers. You’ll always fall short sooner or later and then you’ll feel bad and probably not be able to write. I believe every writer has to figure things out for themselves and you have to do what’s best for you.
8) Read your work out loud to yourself. I believe in this because when you read something out loud not only do you hear the rhythm of your words, you’ll also catch a lot of mistakes, too.
9) Know that with writing, like anything else you do in life, you will get better over time if you keep at it. Because if you keep learning, you’ll push yourself to go further and deeper and your writing will get better because of that.
10) Don’t let Fear stop you from writing. This is advice I really need to take myself but knowing that I’ve retreated from my writing because of Fear is the first step in moving away from it. Don’t let the bullies and jerks of this world ruin writing for you, and don’t give them any power over you.