Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Don't Take My Advice

I see so much writing advice out there, laundry lists of dos and don’ts, and not all of it is good, or helpful, or true.

What one reader enjoys, another hates. What works for one book does not work for another. What might be cliché in this instance is not so cliché in the hands of a different artist.

Getting caught up in the “dos” and “don’ts” of writing can be dangerous. If you’re so worried about doing it wrong, you may never do it right, either. Because you are going to do it “wrong.” Not wrong because some governing board of creative writers says it is, but wrong because that’s not who that character is or the direction that story wants to go. For me, writing means layering, and I can’t get to that final, polished layer until I first lay down all the other ones.

Writing is a talent and craft that requires hard work. It does not come with a set of tried-and-true, guaranteed-to-never fail instructions. (We aren’t assembling bookshelves, after all.) Great writing is honed and developed over time. The best writing forges its own path instead of following the paved, oft-traveled road laid by others. (Or it takes us on the paved, oft-traveled road and makes us look at the familiar world in a way we never have before. See? No rules.)

Well-meaning advice is just that. Following it does not guarantee you a poignant story, an agent, a book deal.

Art demands it be felt, not reduced down to a dos and don’ts list.
But don't take my word for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment