Day Ninety-Eight: No More Writing Advice

I hereby refuse to read any more writing advice blogs/columns/articles/quotes.

The internet is flooded with advice on how to be a great writer. The irony is that most of it is horribly written. Or boring. Pedantic, mysterious, blunt, optimistic… Everything! I can’t take it anymore.

All I have actually learned from this impossible array of mostly conflicting advice is that the writing process is particularly personal. Have you ever noticed that no two people brush their teeth the same way? Watch them. Watch anyone. If even a simple act like brushing one’s teeth is a unique act of individualism, how could any two people write the same way?

The best way to learn how to write is to read and write as much as possible until you stumble into your own method.

I’m not saying don’t read publishing advice. I’m not saying don’t read other authors… Do. As much as possible, read their every word. I even like interviews about other writers’ writing process.

But to think that someone can sit you down and show you the exact method of creating a writing process? Of creating a character? Narrative? Story? No.

From now on, I write the way I write. It changes day-to-day. It’s sometimes impossible. Maybe it’s not the most efficient. Maybe I use a lot of adverbs. But it’s mine.

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Day Sixteen: Progress and Prologue

Last night I did some edits on Chapter Six (which ended up being quite long once I finished creating Bean’s haven) and have decided to put it in the Rough Draft bin and move on to Seven. My outline has me at 29 chapters which means… I’m more than a fifth done! With my rough draft… I have so much editing to do after that, too… I feel like, as much as I say the word “moving” on a daily basis (not out loud though because then people would think I’m speaking only to myself due to lack of nearby friends), there is still so much.

I think it’s bit like chipping away at a block of marble and trying to shape it. Take it one word at a time…

I had wonderful breakthroughs while trying to go to sleep and woke up this morning so eager to get going, but now I have a headache and absolutely nothing on paper. It looks like a nice dark nap is in my future…

I think the two biggest breakthrough of my sleepless adventure last night was that I made up this really cool game that I love and everyone will play and will end up playing an integral role in the book. I’m excited to write it when I’m feeling a bit better. (I know… well enough to Blog but not to write? What, an excuse? I swear though, this requires far less mental capacity… It’s a bit more like doing a cool down after a really intense workout.)

I also keep coming back to a prologue. I’ve written a prologue at least four times, but then I kept butchering it and taking pieces for the first few chapters. So then I decided to scrap the entire prologue idea. But every now and then I think about how I need something to really hook someone in and I realize, by the end of this, I am actually going to need one. So instead of writing the whole thing out and then cutting most of it, from now on, whenever I get a “Totally perfect” idea for the prologue, I’m just going to jot it down on a list and by the end of this, run down the list and see what ideas are actually worth writing and trying. I think it’ll have to be the last thing written, but already I struggle just thinking about it. Anyone else have any better advice out there?

I think the opening to every book is the most important part. It’s not 100% make or break if the story is great (but it’s still at least 90%), but it sets the ENTIRE TONE of the book. Look at the Prologue of Twilight (lots of very dramatic, life/death soliloquy) and then the first chapter of Harry Potter (um… a giant on a motorcycle drops a baby off at a rude man’s house… of course everyone wanted to read this book!).

I think a first chapter/prologue has to really mean something. It’s got to be even better than the ending (by the ending, you’re already invested, even if the author cops-out on you, you’re going to read it), which is why I’m probably still so daunted by the task.