Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Advice to You

I tend to do my writing in bulk, over about three hours, four or five days a week. My productivity is usually pretty good this way (I did nine thousand words last week and eleven thousand the week before; not bad, right?). But there are times when I can barely put a hundred words down no matter how much I sit staring at the screen, willing myself to write. It’s at these points that I often go searching the internet for other people who have gone through the same thing in hopes of learning how to make the words just get out on the screen.

There are a lot of writers out there, and most of them seem to have blogs, and the one thing they like to do is give writing advice to other writers. You know. Like I’m doing now. Anyway! I find that sometimes, the advice is quite helpful. But truth be told, it often isn’t. Now, I’m not saying the advice is bad. Most of the time, it’s well written and at least gives me something to consider. It’s just that for whatever reason, I can’t make it work for me.

Going back to the writer’s block example, I have read a lot about how to slay that insidious beast. Some advise powering through, typing something, anything until the will to write returns. Others say you should switch to another project. Still others say take a break (a day or a week or however long it takes). Or go edit what you’ve already written, skip the part that’s bothering you, do some outlining, etc. There’s no end to it. But nothing I’ve read has really helped me get over a writing slump. I’ve always had to work through it on my own doing one or more (or none!) of the above, because I am a very different writer than all of you, just like each of you is very different from everyone else.

Is all this advice bad? Far from it. In writing about what works for us, we are giving ideas to others that may or may not help, and even if it’s probably not, we are clarifying to ourselves what we need to do when the situation arises. These blogs—or mine, anyway—isn’t just about connecting with you guys and spouting boring facts about word origins. It’s also a record of what I’m doing. So I can have an alibi for when I’m on trial remember what I’ve done and what I need to do.

Or something. Thoughts? What is your advice about advice?


  1. Or so you can remember what you did that worked?
    Most of the advice is just an opinion and may not apply to us. If we tried to do all of them, we wouldn't accomplish anything.

  2. I think it's helpful to read advice, even when you *know* that advice won't work for you, because it validates that other people have the same problem. We all go through it; we all hate it; but everyone will face it as some point. That's at least helpful to know!

  3. I like it when people blog about what works for them. Sure, some (if not most) of it won't apply to me, but every once in a while, I'll come across a gem of an idea that changes my writing life for the better. That wouldn't happen if they didn't post.

  4. You can use a blog as an alibi? That's so cool.
    "No, seriously, judge, I was home typing up a post. Look! Here it is!"
    I wonder what kinds of things you can get out of with that... You go test it and let me know!

  5. A blog post as an alibi would be a wonderful thing when it comes time for my idiot ex-brother-in-law to finally fall through the ice on some fishing trip, come to think of it...

  6. Well if you couldn't pre-schedule your post...

    Anyhow, I'm still of the opinion MUSIC is the cure all for lack of words. Call me crazy if you want, but it works.

  7. Advice is good when you ask for it. One person's experience can help another. I find that reading things about how other writers do it helps me find things that could work for me. Other things I know won't work, but these are all seeds, things that might help later.

    That's why I don't do advice on my blog. I tried it, but I only know what works for me.

    As for writer's block, I write everything in what I call a WBW (short for writer's block workshop). Stream of consciousness. When I don't know what to write, I write about not knowing what to write about. What's bothering me. What annoys me. What I should be working on. Sometimes it even helps.

    Other times I just have to step away from the computer.

  8. Slumpy slumpy slump. Sorry, I have nothing to add, so I thought I'd try coming up with a chant. Or at least a Disney song. Slump slumpitty, slump slumpitty...

  9. I don't have any advice to get around this, but a possible insight into the reason behind it. If you gradually slow down and putter to a stop, you may have taken a wrong way with your story and realize this at a subconscious level. If you come to an immediate halt, it may be something you're uncomfortable writing about.


Please validate me.