If You Want My Advice

(or The Backward Completion Principle)

Photo on 6-1-13 at 8.30 AM

Whenever I dispense writing advice (not be confused with teaching) I do so with pause. I hesitate because it’s all mostly bull-crap — I’m talking about the advice on “how” to write. There are conventions to be taught, and know, but getting yourself to the desk every day and sending your work out is the task of one person and that person is you, and no amount of advice from the newly published is going to save you a nickel. Being published doesn’t guarantee your process will be the next writer’s process. In other words, there are no be-all to end-all steps to take to being continually at your desk doing what writers must do. And yet. Every writer and their dog offers up their list of the ten, twenty, fifty things a writer *must* do to get their work done; get published; or survive the mores and toil of social media marketing. All of it ugh in my book. The only advice should be: write.
It’s that simple. I wish I’d been told that years ago instead of fixating on whatever the latest bestselling author was telling me. Writers are haunted by these lists of advice and I’ve come to frankly consider them little more than a sure-fire way to collapse into writer’s block (which I don’t think exists to be frank, but that’s another post for another day). Mostly what girds me is that the advice is always post-hoc ergo propter hoc; in other words, stuff learned after the fact and it (the advice) has the feel of ‘do-this-and-get-that’ vibe I think is disingenous and a disservice to writers. By supplying the advice of the neophyte, it supplants what might have been the writer’s own journey of discovery which will be all the more richer for being particular to you. In the end, the advice is always hit or miss anyway — writers all tend to come to their own processional habits through ye ole trial and error. I did, but it tooks years of weaning myself of the advice of too many others who ran the game before me.
By all means, read the advice, just don’t take it to heart. Find your own way, sang Fleetwood Mac. No truer words for a writer.
Well, at least that’s my advice.