Writing advice is pretty much everywhere in these glorious days of Google. Even before the advent of the internet, you could guarantee being able to find manuals that would provide you with all manner of writing advice.
I even made a list of my favourite how-to books for writers.
But given it’s now available in books, on blogs, on podcasts and even Youtube, what do you actually DO with it?
Writing advice is exactly that. Advice.
It’s ultimately your choice but essentially you have two options. Ignore it, or give it a go. Some bloggers and writers will issue their advice as gospel.
I fell foul of this a few weeks ago when commenting about my own process on someone’s blog post. They put me in my place because my process didn’t fit into their particular vision. Won’t be commenting there again!
But anyway. My whole ethos in providing writing advice on this blog or my author branding blog, Write Brand Sell, is not to tell you what to do, but rather to let you know what I’ve done. If it works for me, maybe it’ll work for you! If it doesn’t, fair enough. Try something else.
But if it does, then hopefully it’ll either shorten your learning curve if you’re just starting out, or it’ll give you a new perspective if you’ve been writing for a while.
If you prefer video, check out the Youtube video below. Otherwise, keep reading!
Writing is an art
Some people believe that writing is an art. These are usually the same people who believe you shouldn’t attempt to make money from your writing. I won’t go into that now, but suffice to say, if writing is an art then you’re supposed to just keep doing it. Eventually, you’ll write for long enough that you should improve just through sheer consistency.
I don’t buy that. You can write for 10,000 hours but if you’ve produced 10,000 hours worth of crap, then what’s the point?
Writing is a craft
I believe writing is a craft, and therefore it’s something you can improve and hone by learning new techniques. Listen to other writers. Read widely to see how other people do it. Try out exercises.
Maybe you’ll write 2000 hours worth of crap, but then you’ll put what you’ve learned and tried into practice and you’ll produce 8000 hours worth of awesome material.
Point is, if you don’t try new techniques or approaches, then you might be missing out on something that will ultimately be of benefit.
Keep your writing exercises separate
I don’t do writing exercises within the working document for a work in progress. I like to keep them separate. The idea is that I do the exercises, my subconscious absorbs them over a period of time, and then it becomes second nature. It’ll ultimately come out through my short stories or novels once I’ve internalised it.
So buy yourself a new notebook and do them by hand. Or if you’re not easily distracted (like me), keep a separate Word document, or Evernote notebook, and keep them in there.
This has the added bonus of keeping potential story seeds in one place. So if you’re ever feeling stuck for ideas, go back through your exercises and see if anything jumps out.
Use them like warm ups
You wouldn’t run a marathon without stretching first, would you? Graphic designers don’t start designing without doodling and sketching first. Writing is no different, and exercises can be a quick and simple way to flex your writing muscles before sitting down to type.
Short exercises are a good way to ease you into your writing time, and they can also ultimately help your projects. After all, if you feel stuck, you can do an exercise to ‘unblock’ yourself.
Plus, don’t fall into the trap of thinking writing is just sitting at the computer, working on the main document. Filling out a character sheet, or journaling as your antagonist, or using writing prompts around the world you’ve built are valid parts of the writing process.
Keep what works, trash what doesn’t
Most importantly of all, if you try an exercise and you find it doesn’t work, just ditch it. Likewise, if you read some advice and think it sounds like nonsense, feel free to ignore it. If it doesn’t resonate with you, then don’t waste your time.
Keep what works and add it to your repertoire, and trash the rest. Your writing life is too short to waste on something that promises a lot but delivers very little!
So over to you. What’s your stance on writing advice?
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