Go to the blog of any writer, and chances are you'll find some advice about writing or a list of dues and don'ts, whatever. Once a writer achieves a certain level of success, they can't stop themselves telling you how to do it. You'll notice there isn't a lot of that here at Blogpocalypse. Hey, I used to teach writing at various colleges and whatnot? Shouldn't I be sharing my wisdom? What a selfish bastard I am.
The fact is I don't share any writing advice here for a few reasons. First, I don't want to bore the crap out of you people. The best writing advice is usually pretty basic stuff. Which means you've probably heard it a thousand times already. The other reason is that other writers on other blogs are already doing a better job giving advice, so you don't need it here.
So I've decided on a twist. Here is some writing advice ... about writing advice.
1. Write what you know. We've all heard this gem. The problem with this is ... what if you don't know jack shit? People, I know a LOT about sipping coffee in my boxer shorts and watching golf on TV. I'm an expert at it. But I'm not sure that would make much of a novel. (If you disagree, Dutton, make me an offer.) So obviously you need to get out in the world and know some shit. Live life. Explore. If you want to write what you know, then start filling your brain with stuff to tap into. This advice should really be DON'T write what you DON'T know. If your novel takes place in Prague then go there or at least hit the library and come home with a stack of research. Yes, you can fake it. I've done that too. But faking it can only get you so far. Also, some people think "write what you know" means certain topics are off limits. They're not. You just have to educate yourself.
2. Sit your ass down and write. This I actually agree with, but what bothers me about this advice is that it is so obvious I find it hard to believe anyone needs to be told this. It amounts to "pull down your pants before you sit on the toilet." Yes! We know! This should not be called advice. It should be called DUH.
3. Rules for writing. I flinch when people refer to "rules" for writing. There are no rules. When you go to a writing class, you are not learning "rules." When someone refers to rules, they are simply telling you good strategies that mostly work most of the time. That's not the same as a "rule." Even punctuation is up for grabs. Ever read Faulkner? Yeah. Name any rule you want, and a good writer will know how to break it or get around it or flat out ignore it. "Your first person protagonist must be alive at the end; otherwise, who is telling the story?" Fuck you. "Your protagonist must be sympathetic." Fuck you sideways.
4. Lists like this. Total bullshit. I'm obviously procrastinating.
5. Real writers write every day. Tell that to spouses and kids who actually expect you to engage with them now and then. Real writers would like to write every day. (And maybe that's not even true.) But just because your a special, creative, precious writer doesn't mean your off the hook from the other stuff that demands space in your life.
6. Carry a pad and pen with you at all times to jot down those great ideas. If you can't remember, then they're not so great. Anyway, just e-mail it to yourself with your smart phone.
7. Process. That word officially has no meaning. All the crazy crap you do to juggle your schedule and bust your ass to make a deadline is way too chaotic to call a "process." It's just survival. Here is my"process": Pour coffee. Start writing. Interviewers, please never ask me about my process again.
8. If you stick your thumb up your ass, it will help focus your ideas. What? You never heard that one? That's because I just made it up. Stop looking for "tricks" to get you writing. Writing is work. You do it, you sweat, you revise and you keep busting your ass.
So what am I missing? Let's hear what sort of writing advice you've been given and what you think about it.
Update: If you're going to give writing advice, then THIS is how you do it. Even if some of it might be advice you've heard before, you've never heard it delivered in this way. Nice one, Chuck.