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“Rules” on Being a Writer

TheTunnelI absolutely love this fabulous post on writing advice from kt literary client Susan Adrian:

With the New Year a lot of people make resolutions to start writing, to write more, to get serious about writing. Yay! We need more good stories. But these new writers or newly serious writers get a lot of advice thrown at them. I’ve been seeing it popping up lately, all over. Especially from published writers.

I read a blog the other day from a published writer telling readers if they want to be a “real” writer they need to write every day. Sure, they didn’t HAVE to. But if they were serious about it…well. This writer made it sound like if you don’t write every day, you might as well give up now, because you weren’t dedicated enough.

NO. NO NO NO NO NO. Guys, I may have growled at the screen a little.

I’ve seen so many writers give advice like that over the years. Not “I did this, or I do this, and it works for me.” That’s useful! But that’s not what I see everywhere. I see “If you want to get published, or be successful:”

  • you should write every day (this is a huge one in the community)
  • you should outline (sure, pantsing is okay for newbies, but not for people with contracts…)
  • you should NOT outline
  • you should use Scrivener
  • you should use Word
  • you should write in cafes, like real writers do
  • you should turn off Internet while you write
  • you should let your manuscript sit for (2 weeks, 1 week, a month) after the first draft. Whatever you do, don’t touch it before then!
  • you should fast-draft and then revise
  • you should revise as you go
  • you should have 3 (or however many) crit partners for each stage
  • you shouldn’t have crit partners after a certain point, just agent/editor
  • you should have a certain number of stages in drafting

etc., etc. RULES. Not tools, or thoughts, or ideas to consider. RULES. And new writers are going to suck those rules right up and try to do all of them, even though many of them conflict! I know I did. I flailed.

There’s more on Susan’s blog, including the three simple pieces of advice that are really all most writers ever need. Check it out.

Image above by Flickr user iMakeContent. Used under a Creative Commons license. I highly recommend clicking through to see in full size and read the “rules” posted!

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