Wednesday, January 26, 2011

writing advice

Some advice for writers, in no particular order of importance:

Be willing to take risks in your writing. The craft of revision allows us to re-write what's not working, but we'll never know whether it works if we don't try, and all too often playing it safe doesn't work.

As a writer, you are a witness as well as a participant. Being a witness often involves more than observance. It also requires listening. Practice stillness. Not an easy thing to do in a world of so many distractions. But you'd be surprised how even a few minutes of stillness per day can profundly affect the writing process.

You have to write the book you would want to read. Ditto for the movie you want to see, the song you want to hear, and so on. Marketing and promotion and platforms and all that are important from a business standpoint, but don't let that figure into your writing process. From an academic perspective, write the paper you would want to read, not the one you think would get the A. In my experience, the A comes to you when you stop giving it so much attention. Kinda like cats.

Re-reading is re-writing.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a bestseller, or wanting to make a living as an author, and a comfortable one at that. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a famous novelist. Reject the voices that tell you you're never going to make any money from this, or that you're not a true artist because you want to make money. Know your intentions, and honor them. Take the path that is right for you. Commit. Persevere.

Hone your craft.

Perfection has no place in a first draft. It only serves as an obstacle to your creativity. Allow the writing to suck, because it will (and quite often) throughout the process. Embrace the suckage because it's the only way you'll have any fun.

When writer's block strikes (and it will), ask yourself what you're really afraid of. Nine times out of ten it's the fear that you're no good. Then do the best you can to write through it. Sometimes it's just not going to work, and you've got to allow that, too. The sun is always shining behind the clouds.

When it comes to chocolate chip cookies and adverbs during the writing process, consume the latter in moderation, not the former.

Which of the above pieces of advice most resonates with you, and why? What are some of your favorite pieces of advice from other writers?


kathyj333 said...

Great advice.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

You're so wise. LOVE this.

Elisa said...

Thank you both! :)

Rob said...

Thank you. I needed that.

Debbi said...

What great advice! Chocolate chip cookies and all. :)

But seriously. Well said.

Elisa said...

You're welcome, Rob

Thanks, Debbi!


Heather Grace Stewart said...

All fantastic advice Elisa, but my fave is "Take the path that is right for you. Commit. Persevere." I feel that. I believe it! And sometimes, for me, the path is an entire bag of Swedish Berries...