Because of my search history I get a lot of links with a lot of the same advice. And quite frankly, I hate most of it. Not every writer is the same, not every manuscript can be written the same way.
#1 Write in the morning
Ew. Gross. I’m not a morning person and most of the writers I know want to enjoy their morning before they have to go off to work. It is important to find a routine for your writing, but it should be one that works for you.
#2 Write daily
Who can actually do this? The time an energy to write everyday comes from a place of privilege. There. I said it. It’s great that so many writers have a low key or non existent day job but many aren’t in the same position. But what I believe is a more prevelent issue is the fact that many writers suffer from mental illness. Depression and Anxiety cause major problems with motivation, focus, and energy. Asking someone to write through that fog is cruel. So again, set up a routine that works for you, not for others.
If you prefer outlining, do it. If not, don’t. Not every writer does well with an outline while others can’t imagine the process without one. It’s up to you.
#4 Show don’t tell
You have to do both. If you never tell your readers information your writing is going to be full of obnoxiously long descriptions in order to show something that could have been short.
#5 Short sentences are better than long sentences
Yes. That’s true. But if all your rhythms are short, then your writing will sound awful. You will see. You will see Spot. You will see Spot run. And your readers will be bored. Varied sentence length is key. Longer sentences have their place to help break up the monotony of your shorter descriptions, which will make your shorter sentences stand out more.
#6 Write short paragraphs
I mean, definitely don’t fill a page without any paragraph breaks but write your paragraphs the length that they need to be. Personally, I believe paragraphs should follow the same rules as sentences and be varied in length.
#7 Always use the active voice
Given that you’ll want longer setences in some places, the passive voice has a place in writing. Just don’t use it often. Active voice is definitely more interesting to read.
#8 Read famous authors
It’s great that you want to work your way through the NYT bestsellers list but there are other books. You should definitely be reading newly published work to keep up on trends and craft issues in your writing. A good rule of thumb is actually from academia: 5 years or less. If you can’t put it on a bibliography then don’t read it. You will not learn where the craft is going by reading old books, especially for children’s literature. The books of your youth are in the past, you need to read something new.
#9 Make writing a priority
If you aren’t a bread winner in your household, sure, go right ahead. Neglect everything else. But for those of us who aren’t financially priveleged, writing has to take a backseat to a lot of other responsibilities.
When you can, choose writing. Make your writing time sacred. No interuptions except for emergencies. Even if it’s only an hour once a week.
#10 Just sit down and do it
If every writer could just sit down and do it there’d be a plethora of amazing books in the world… and also more awful ones. The struggle is part of the process. You get stuck so you read over old chapters, it sparks an idea and keeps you familiar with your work. Don’t beat yourself up because the words don’t magically flow out of your fingers every time you sit down to write.
Originally published on July 23, 2021 @ 12:00 pm