Advice on Advice on Writing

Some gyms are better than others. Surely a gym where a lot of fit celebrities frequent will be better than any low-funded nursing home gym. But that doesn’t mean that going to the more expensive gym will get you more fit. They just have better, newer equipment. But you getting fit- that depends solely on you. And your willingness to become fit. Then you have to physically work out in order to become fit.

The same tenet applies to advice on writing. Or rather, the advice on anything. Simply having good advice doesn’t make anyone a good writer. Reading a lot of books about writing doesn’t automatically change the way you write. Classes and advise are helpful, though. They give you the necessary tools to write. You receive the fancy golf clubs, but it’s your responsibility to learn how to swing them.

I began to think about this today while loitering in a book store, reading through tomes of writerly advice. From writers. Like Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. And I think it’s super cool and interesting to read about how other writers write. When do they write? What’s their method? But then again, that can’t possibly work for everyone. A piece of advice is only as good as its application.

I read a good piece of advice the other day: remove all words like “thought” and “felt” from your writing. That way, a character’s feelings are more organic. But the advice feels like someone asking you to, “Eat less sugar.” It sounds easy. It’s incredibly simple. But it’s really, really, really hard to do.

So basically, writing advice is great and all. But writing well requires people to… well, write. There are a lot of people in America who want to write a novel, but have never actually written anything before. They expect to read a lot of writing books and… viola! Bestseller!

How do you handle writing advice? Do you try to implement it? Do you ignore it and do your own thing?

Quote of the day: “Your life just cruises along until—bam, you’re hit by a car. Or by a truck. Or by something else that makes you realize that everything you thought was real is not. It’s not real, not at all.”

About derekberry

Derek Berry is a novelist, poet, and student located in Charleston, SC.

Posted on June 14, 2011, in Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. “How do you handle writing advice?”

    Much like the snake expert handles the question “Have you ever been bitten?”. The proper response is, of course; “Good golly no, snakes are dangerous, I ain’t going close to ’em, mate. Here, have a sausage.”

    When I started feeling that capricious feeling of “I want to write derp I read a-lot book!” when I was younger I spent some time looking for some starter advice. Some were garbage. Some were insightful. Some were so specifically attuned to only the advisor that it hissed when trying to grasp it without protective gloves.

    But, as with most things, it boiled down to the simple, mind numbing, truth: Just do it. Just write. Then write again. Only stop when your fingers bleed and your eyes has taken the first flight to Vietnam. Flex your fingers and move ’em like you are Richard Simmons prom date!

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