Writing Advice For The Rest Of Us
This post is my message to everyone else who also reads a lot of writing advice lists and feels frustrated and broken as a writer because so much of the near-universal advice doesn’t seem to work.
1. Don’t write if you don’t feel like writing. Some writers thrive on forcing themselves to crank out words they hate. Uh, bully for them? Every time I try to write when I don’t feel like writing, I end up not only deleting all the crap I spew but also staying in a don’t-wanna-write mood for a lot longer than normal. If forcing the words doesn’t work for you, don’t do it. Give yourself time.
2. Editing before you start writing is fine. “Don’t do it!” they holler. “Make new words, don’t get stuck rewriting forever!” Fuck you, Hemingway reread every time he wrote and so can I. Even if you do wind up editing the whole time and not writing any new words, so what? Improving what you’ve got is perfectly worthwhile.
3. It’s okay to be a perfectionist. Sometimes it takes an hour to write a sentence. That is fine. Wordcount is not the end-all be-all of productivity; quality matters too. The “your first draft is just gonna be shitty, accept it” attitude doesn’t work for everyone.
4. Procrastination is good. Man, I seriously cannot tell you how much less stressful writing has become since I decided procrastination was a crucial part of my process and stopped feeling guilty about it. It gives you time to work through things subconsciously, and sometimes you get a whole lot of housework done in the process. Or a whole lot of Netflix-watching. Whatever. It’s okay. You’re okay.
5. Writing advice is a pile of bullshit. Yep, even this writing advice. The only writing advice you should really listen to is the stuff that comes from people who know you and your style and your flaws well. Everything else is a suggestion, and anyone who thinks their advice is a magical exception that applies to every writer is not worth your time.
You are not alone, and you are not broken, and you are not a bad writer just because your process is different from others. Hang in there.