All the Writing Advice You’ll Ever Need

From Writer Unboxed: All the Writing Advice You’ll Ever Need

Since I’m on record as saying (many times) that virtually all writing advice is either useless, overstated, or garbage, I am naturally interested in this post. Go ahead, Writer Unboxed, tell me what the truly essential writing advice might be:

Ah, this is a bait-and-switch title. It’s just a post offering snippets of advice from a handful of authors and commenting on that advice. Like this:

Another common piece of writing advice is to write every day. I’m not sure who said that first, but the author Jodi Picoult has this to say:

“You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Note that she’s not specifically advocating writing every day, but she does have a point that writing something is better than nothing.. However, having a goal to write every day doesn’t work for everyone. You might miss one day, then promise to catch up tomorrow. Life gets in the way and you don’t, so you resolve to write three days’ worth the next day. Something else comes up and you can’t complete your goal. For some people, that can invoke a sense of failure or even stress to write so many words in a single day to catch up.

For other writers, they have to give themselves that aim of writing every day, maybe at a set time every morning, otherwise they never manage to get any writing done at all.

Which is fine. You might as well say: The advice to write every day works for some people and not for others, and we already knew that, I expect, but it’s certainly a lot better than saying “Write every day” and stopping there.

I’m not always making my 2000-word-per-day goal for Tasmakat, by the way. Fortunately, I am not the sort of person who feels guilty about that. It’s a goal, not a requirement, and there’s a lot going on. Also, The Golden Enclaves dropped yesterday, so guess what I did last night. I didn’t even look at my laptop. I’m really enjoying it so far!

Meanwhile, back to the advice post …

I’ll leave you with this one final piece of writing advice, from playwright Lillian Hellman:

“If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.”

There you go! THAT is good advice.

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4 thoughts on “All the Writing Advice You’ll Ever Need”

  1. Speaking of Golden Enclaves, what other story has such effective foreshadowing?
    Cold Mountain is still number 1, of course. You just grit your teeth as the denouement approaches.

  2. C.J. Cherryh’s advice: ‘Never follow any rule off a cliff.’

    My own original advice: If you want something to be random, use some kind of randomizer for the vast majority of cases. A few handpicked cases can be hidden in the mix, but not too many.

  3. Pete, one of the things I’m admiring most in Golden Enclaves is how utterly unlikeable Liesel is — in a completely different way than El. I love Liesel! You could do a great presentation on unlikeable characters using JUST THIS ONE BOOK. We have every kind, from characters we despise to characters we have to reluctantly admit may have a point and now Liesel, and obviously El herself.

    I’m just about at the halfway mark.

  4. Good advice, Mary! It’s definitely tricky to generate anything truly random without a random number generator.

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