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Writing "Advice" and my General Hatred of Random Tumblr Posts Extolling the "Perfect

*Deep breath*

Okay, let me ask for forgiveness here. I am one of those people that is far more comfortable speaking my mind from behind a keyboard than I am in person (unless if I'm comfortable with you, in which case watch out and I apologize for my rants). Because while I'm opinionated and have very firm beliefs, I will almost always back down from an argument, especially if the other person is in any position of authority (I'm a Pomeranian; all bark and no bite).

Buuuuuuuuut. I'm pretty dang frustrated by all of the writing tips and advice columns and general posts out there that essentially read something to the effect of "how to craft an epic story in three hours" or "how to write phenomenal characters your readers will love" or "here's eighty million words and don't use any of them because they're weak/bad/poor/stupid/boring/place-your-adjective-here"


Every time I tell a teen that I'm an aspiring novelist, I always get the question of "What advice do you have for me as I write my story? I'm so lost and confused and I don't know what to do and I just wanna do it right."

Dangit kids just write. Throw all of the advice out the window to start. Sure, stockpile the tips and word-smithing tools. Bookmark and pin those overused word lists and world building charts. Sure, save that long, fifty question "you should know these things about your characters" document. But don't start there.

That's my advice. And I can already hear my imaginary blog readers out there screaming that I'm giving bad advice. I have to contend that I'm not. And here's my numbered list why:

1. Writing is hard enough without slapping a million rules to it at the onset. Are there things you might want to try and do before sitting down to write? Absolutely. Crafting a basic character sheet and attempting an outline for the story is a good starting point. But once that's done just start writing the story. You can't do everything right the first time. It just isn't possible. So get the story out there and get your writing process started. Leave the "rules" behind. If I had read all of the "rules" out there before starting to craft my story, I never would have even considered writing. Because it's TERRIFYING when you see all of these do's and don't's written by other struggling writers out there that have placed their own feelings towards certain things and are convinced they found the secret. They did find the secret - for THEIR writing. Not necessarily for mine or for yours.

2. There's a reason they're called "first drafts". Or as I like to call them, skeleton drafts. They're meant to be the thing you spit out without agonizing over every single friggin' word choice. Spit the story out and then start the agonizing. Then go over it and ask the questions and pick out your overused words or poorly structured sentences. The chances of you popping out a perfectly crafted, worded, character driven, thematically solid, story-structure-sound book on draft one are astronomical at best. Give yourself some grace.

3. Just 'cause it worked for someone else doesn't mean it'll work for everyone. We all write differently. We all have different ways of conveying a story. Hence the whole eye-witness account thing. Have ten people paint the same thing and they'll all come out different somehow. As such, your approach to writing is YOUR approach. Just 'cause one writer claims their way of crafting a character is the sure-fire way to do it doesn't mean that's accurate for you. Let your natural ability take form.

4. By giving all of these rules, you're making a ton of people that sound exactly the same, spitting out the same story over and over again. Aren't you sick of the post-apocalyptic worlds with love triangles and houses/classes/groups/etc. that need to be done by teens that somehow are meant to save the world because reasons? Aren't you tired of The Hunger Games knock off number eighteen? Aren't you tired of ten versions of watered down Lord of the Rings? It's called the creative process for a reason.

5. The elusive "writing process" is different for everyone. Do you see what I'm saying in all of these numbered points? People are different, therefore their way of approaching a story will be different. You cannot just label some words "good" and others "bad". You cannot label one person's process "excellent" and another "disastrous". If it leads to a story that gets written on paper, then by jove it's a process that worked for that person. The terms "good" and "bad" in story-telling mediums are always subjective and based on opinion. All of those writing tips out there are good to read through but dangit give yourself some credit and let yourself try it your own way!

Those are just some of my thoughts on writing advice. Take it or leave it, I really don't care. I mostly just wanted to get my thoughts out before they consumed me.

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