My Semi-Fictional Life #124 (I seem to recall…)

Hello peeps. I just wrote about memory a few days ago, namely my earliest one, but it seems my memory has failed me today. I seem to recall writing up a post concerning bad writing advice, finishing it, and publishing it to this blog. Not only do I not have an upload from yesterday, but I don’t have a saved draft either. Weird.

Anyway, I owe you a blog post for yesterday and today. So today (yesterday) we’ll talk about what I wanted to talk about yesterday (today). I just confused myself… Pardon me while I regroup. While you’re waiting, here’s the worst writing advice new and old writers alike can ever receive:

“You shouldn’t write about [fill in the blank]. You might offend someone.”

Listen, folks, this is by far the most limiting bullshit I’ve heard. If you have an inkling to write about something and someone tells you that is not a good idea based on their opinion of the topic, that is more a reason that you should write about it than it is a reason not to. If no one’s got the ovaries to put that shit to paper, you should grow a pair and own the subject. Never let anyone tell you what to or what not to write.

“Nobody reads [insert antiquated or rarely-used style] anymore.”

This is in the same category as the first piece of bad advice I mentioned, but this time we’re not talking about offending anyone. We’re talking what’s profitable. I had an editor who used to tell me all the time what I should and should not be writing so that I could sell more books. Every week, this editor gave me some new directive: don’t write short stories, they’re a waste of time; don’t write in third person, first person sells more books; never write omniscient, nobody reads that style anymore; same with epistolary; never use “was” in your writing; adverbs literally invoke Satan; and so on. While all of those things are true, to an extent, any one of those things is not wrong. Meaning, they’re not mistakes. People have their preferences, sure. That’s why damn-near every romance, thriller, and horror novel you come across has the same three-act structure. Everybody’s playing out of the same playbook. That shit gets old, though. Mix it up. Throw a wrench in the gear work. Write a 1,000-page tome in second-person from the point of view of a glass of Ovaltine. I’m not saying anyone will read it, but you should try it anyway.

“You should join a writing community.”

Other than meeting my good friends Nettles and Jess, I’ve not had a positive experience with writing communities. Even NaNoWriMo groups can be destructive to your writing process. I hate to burst your bubble, but writing is a loner’s task. Even when working on collaborations with other authors, you still do the writing part alone. You might toss ideas around, but the physical writing is always done one at a time.  No one can reside in your head, and you cannot reside in anyone else’s. You’re alone. Deal with it. Writing groups promote the spread of bad advice and breed egos, especially if you’re personal friends with members of the group. After all, no one wants to be responsible for telling their friend that their writing is as enjoyable as taking a blowtorch to the genitals. There will always be someone worse and someone better than you, but the biggest reason not to join one of these fucking things is the hot-and-cold running bad advice. Great writers are usually shitty editors, and great editors are shitty writers. Dems da facks, Jak. (I hear some mediocre editors and writers out there grumbling about how they can do both… You’ll be all right. I’m sure you’re the one exception to the rule. The sarcasm drips…) The truth is, if the people in your group had all the answers, they wouldn’t be in a group. They’d be off doing their own thing, making ends meet and fucking celebrities and posting writing advice to WordPress blogs. So, no, writing groups will not help you be a better writer. Reading, writing, and working with professional editors are the only three things that will better your craft. Everything else is masturbation. And while playing with yourself might feel good and improve your stamina, it doesn’t make you a better lover.

I’m sure there’s loads more bad writing advice in the world than what I’ve mentioned here, so feel free to add to the conversation in the comments, wherever this post might find you.

See you tomorrow,


Pic of the Day

Today’s (yesterday’s) book haul…