If I’ve Said It Once…

Recently I had a message from a slightly disgruntled reader who has previously asked me for writing advice a few times. They were very polite, and we had a good discussion afterwards, but they felt that I often skirted around giving direct advice on writing and publishing when I’m asked for it.

The truth is, I do. It’s very deliberate on my part that when I’m asked for writing advice, I frame my answer very loosely so that it’s open to interpretation.

Who am I to tell you how to write? I can advise, sure. I’m happy to! I can tell you what works for me, or how you could come at a problem. I can repeat the “established” rules to you. Does that make my advice correct? Does that make it sound and foolproof? No, of course not.

Write every day? Well, in principle this is great, but in practice? Not everyone can do that. I can’t. I don’t have the time or the spoons. I write when I can, and I resent anyone who tries to say that’s wrong. This blog post, for example, is being scribbled down on my lunch break at The Day Job between mouthfuls of pasta salad.

If, however, we take that commonly recited rule and change the way we interpret it from “you must write every single day or you are a failure” to “write every day that you can” it becomes far less judgemental and far more achievable. And if we can do that with the most well known of writing rules, we can do it for all of them. Be creative. You’re a writer, aren’t you? Creative is what we do.

Don’t write in first person? Tell that to Suzanne Collins. Avoid adverbs at all costs? I give you JK Rowling. Prologues suck? Bite me.

Writing is art.

Writing is art.

Writing is art.

Learn the rules, but all means. Learn them all until you can recite them backwards in your sleep. Then toss them out of the nearest window and do what works for you.

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