There’s a helluva lot of writing advice that floats around, and it can be so easy to get overwhelmed. I’m going to leave the actual craft stuff alone, (although I’m firmly in the ‘use other dialogue tags than said’ camp), and take a look at one of the bits about writing as an act, as an art.
The one that sparked this for me is the idea of just sitting down and writing. This relates into the whole ‘writers block is stupid and doesn’t exist, real writers just sit down and write! Professionals don’t sit down and wait for inspiration’ etc etc.
The people who retweet those quotes, and write those blog posts etc will state that you need to write, every day, regardless of whether you’re inspired. They’ll tell you that no one can tell the difference between an inspired day and a rough ‘it took me 3 hours to drag out 200 words’ day. That could be true for them, and fantastic! Wonderful! It is not however true for me. I’ve done blind tests with my editor, my beta reader, and a whole bunch of friends (writers and nonwriters). They told me, without a shadow of a doubt, that the non-inspired, just sit down and bloody write, writing, was inferior. It required more polish and editing. There is a clear difference in quality there.
Yes. They were blind tests. They were handed two pieces of writing, no title, no clue. Same subject, same scene type, etc.
Personally, I’m a quick writer when I write, and I would much rather write a clean first draft that requires far less editing (and thus money throwing at it for editing), than sit down and force myself to write something that will require more editing. If you’re in the latter camp, if you’d feel better about yourself if you made yourself write every day – that’s awesome. You need to do what makes you happy. Just keep in mind that that doesn’t work for all of us.
My other problem, aside from the quality difference, with this advice, is it makes me miserable. I love writing, it’s my passion, my art. If I start forcing myself to write, I’ll lose that love. It’ll become a chore, something stressful. I chose this incredibly difficult route because it’s my passion. To be blunt, if I wanted to stress myself out, and battle with something every day, I’d go and get a day job that had a steady income and benefits.
If you’re like me, if you don’t want this to become a stressful act, then don’t feel bad. Don’t allow that advice to get you down, it’s ok. We’re individuals and we work differently. We each have our positives and our negatives.
So for those of you who feel guilty when you see those quotes. Those of you who snarl a little bit and throw something because you just can’t do that dammit – it’s ok. I’m like that too, and this is just how we work. There’s nothing wrong with us, we’re no less serious, we’re just looking after our mental state by not stressing ourselves out and producing lower quality writing.** Next time you see one of those, look back at this and smile knowing that you’re not alone, and there’s nothing wrong with your methods.
**I’m not saying that everyone writes poorer quality fiction when they force themselves to write, I’m saying that those people who’re like me do.
Take care of yourselves. Remember that you’re an individual. And you’re not alone. No really, there are many, many, more crazy writers just like you out there ready to hug you tight and welcome you to the madness.