… is what I’ve come to realise after reading through mountains of writer’s advice blogs and articles: don’t read them. They will discourage you, if anything else. Now, I realise this might be considered writer’s advice as well, but I believe there are exceptions. (1) listen to criticism. It’s a no brainer, and granted, every writer’s advice article will tell this but I believe it’s crucial for any artist and is worth reiterating.
But in the end, the most important advice anyone can give you is, (2) Write what you’d like to read; when you do this, everything else will fall into place because you will sense if something is wrong, if the tone of the scene is out of place or if the characters act strangely because you are intimately close with your story. If anyone tells you How To Write a Story, don’t listen. They can only tell you How THEY Write a Story and is in reality only giving advice to their younger selves, not to you.
Which I’m doing too, ironically.
I believe it can be downright damaging to read such articles because they will often only tell you what you can’t write and that is bullshit. Writing is an artform and you should avoid learning the rules for as long as you can. Come to think of it, there’s actually a third advice: (3) Read, for god sake read as much as you can! Read lot’s of different stories, different genres, fiction, nonfiction, it will all mold you into what kind of writer you’ll become. You’ll absorb styles, the words they use and their voices until your own work become indistinguishable from theirs and thus become your own.
Artists steal, that’s the truth of it, and the reason we have such great fiction today is because there’s a lot of it. There are a lot of inspiration to be had and more means different and your goal is to become different, which is yourself.
Don’t write what is popular or what you think will sell, at least not for the sake of it. Make good art, as Neil Gaiman would put it.
That said, what is different from Writer’s Advice is listening to what other authors do, which has merit, because while we write, we try to find the process that works for us and they can give you some idea to what works for you. So, in the end, what I’m trying to say is, listen to yourself first and others second, only you know what kind of writer you want to be.
© Christopher Stamfors