Throw Out The Writing Advice and Become a Better Writer
Have you ever taken a stroll past the writing section in a library or book store? Endless books on how to become a writer, how to be a better writer, what you should write about, and how to "break into the business". The advice is different, and I've read many, but most all say the same thing- not in so many words. Find who you are as a writer. Don't depend on someone else to tell you how to write. I can list several writers who broke the rules or don't follow mainstream advice, and they do quite well making a living on writing.
The problem is when you begin to read others' advice, tips, exercises, ideas, you eventually lose yourself. You want to make money writing so you seek "professional" advice from authors. Many were at the right place at the right time. I am beginning to learn, making a living at writing has less to do with writing than marketing yourself or some serendipitous event to sweep you off your chair and onto the bestsellers list.
The industry is always looking for new ideas, fresh voices, and it is in our writing, not literally, that we present ourselves to the world. People can tell when you are being a fake; following other authors' rules, writing style, or any other advice.
I WILL ADMIT THERE IS ONE GREAT PEICE OF ADVICE: GRAMMAR!
Creative Exercises- Writing Inside the Box
CREATIVE WRITING ADVICE AND EXERCISES ARE MY PET PEAVE!
The PROBLEM: When you think of creativity, thinking outside the box is what usually comes to mind. Therefore, the purchasing of, learning, and execution of creative writing exercises/advice is an insult to your creativity. How can someone be inspired by filling in the blanks? Unless you hold in your hand your very own personal muse (an inspirational Greek Goddess for guys and a pause button on life for women), creative writing tips and exercises will hinder you.
I'm guilty, I've read tons (OK, two too many) of these books, and their place in my life only served to enable my dirty secret; procrastination. First, by fooling myself into believing I had to read these books before I could start writing. Second, I never produced good writing samples from creative exercises. Naturally, I simply concluded I wasn't a good writer anymore and should give up.
The SOLUTION: If you don't feel the creative juices flowing, don't write. Instead, do something else creative; draw, paint, sculpt, build, read, play imaginary friends with your child. Feel it from others; be around creative works or people to get your inspiration sparked- like visiting an art gallery, watching someone create a piece of art.
It's crucial to step outside of your boundaries to get creative. We live in box shaped houses for God's sake. How creative can that make us feel day in and day out, living in a literal box? Get out, explore. Do something you don't usually do. Talk to someone you usually wouldn't.
Get out of your proverbial box too. I've been known to pick up a magazine or book on a topic I would normally not read about. You can do this on HubPages by browsing topics you wouldn't usually take interest in. So many of us keep wanting to learn more about the same stuff we already know so much about. This can serve as a reassuring security blanket to our knowledge bank, but it squashes creativity.
OK HERE IT IS: This wouldn't be one of my hubs if I didn't include a personal story. I'll soon explain my trick for creativity. Most of you know me on hubpages as someone who writes about everyday topics, but "I have a fantasy!" That is, a fantasy side to my writing resume. I grew up reading "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" and watching "The Neverending Story". I've written fantasy fiction as long as I could write.
My trick for writing creatively is browsing the greeting card section of unique gift stores or small town stores where they sell local, artsy cards. This trick dates back to when I was a kid and my mom loved to take a drive in the country and explore quaint little shops. I never begged for candy or toys, just greeting cards. The pictures on some of these cards were so inspirational I would go home and immediately write a story about what I imagined.The stories would write themselves.
A sample of my greeting card collection.
Famous Authors' Advice
Stephen King has a book, "On Writing", with tips on how to be a better writer.
Get to the point is one of his tips. But I have to disagree because several self-help books written by motivational speakers repeat similar points and reiterate phrases for emphasis. Many of the classics, for instance Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Anderson, went into excruciating detail, but these are beloved books and authors.
Read more or read authors you admire. You may find yourself becoming a copycat by accident or lacking enthusiasm because so many people have already written your ideas, and probably better. I found myself in that proverbial box every time I tried to learn from or emanate the authors I was reading. I say read often, but not all having to do with what you like to write. Read a well-known author, but read more than what they say. Read into why they may be so popular. Do they possess distinctive writing styles or verbiage?
My Unconventional List of Pros and Cons of Writing
- Writing is like good sex. You get caught up in the moment and afterwards, with a few glistening beads of the good kind of sweat, you sit back and smugly say to yourself- Woo Hoo!
- Writing is like a blue sky. Everyone can appreciate it.
- Writing is like making a wish. As long as you write, you can dream.
- Writing is like volunteering. You're always a better person for it even if you don't get paid.
- Writing is a lot like the lottery. Many will play, fewer will win.
- Writing is like driving. Many know how to do it, but doesn't mean they should. And only the professionals can break the rules and get handsomely rewarded for it.
- Writing is like a cheap toaster. The results are completely unpredictable.
- Writing is like a baby. It calls to you at inopportune times and is selfishly driven. Some days it doesn't matter what you put into it, all that comes out is crap.
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