#BlogHop – Advice for New Writers

Week 4 of the #Blog Hop for #Writers hosted by Ruth Snyder!  This week, the topic is “Advice I’d Give a Newbie Writer.”

It feels a little weird for me to be giving advice.  After all, I’m not a best-selling novelist.  (Yet.)  I haven’t actually published anything.  (Yet.)  In fact, aside from a handful of dubious short stories and some amateur poetry, I haven’t even finished anything.  (Yet.)  That is why I refer to myself as an “author-in-progress.”

I could direct you to hundreds of books written by people far more articulate, interesting, and qualified than I am for advice on writing.  (I’m including a list of my favorite ones at the end of this entry for the curious and masochistic.)  I could parrot the many tried and true sayings that have percolated my brain over the years, like “Have a routine,” or “Write every day,” or “The first draft always sucks; don’t let that discourage you,” or “Everyone has their own way of writing.”  All of which are valid pieces of advice.  There are plenty of bit-sized tidbits floating around on the internet in the form of brightly colored, friendly-looking helpful quotes in fancy fonts, often accompanied by pictures of a pen, paper, books, or tea.  Like this one, for instance:

via Pinterest

So I don’t feel like I’ve put in the hours or had the success that would make me qualified to give out advice.  But there is one thing that I’ve learned that I’d like to share:

(And you can quote me on that.)

(And you can quote me on that.)

It’s hard to be taken seriously when you’re an artist, any kind of artist, especially when economic times get rough.  People who aren’t writers often don’t understand how hard it can be to write.  Some days, writing can be so fun and easy you could do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and it would be pure bliss.  Other days, doing dentistry on a megalodon shark without the use of Novocaine sounds pleasant in comparison.  And just because writing is hard work doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily drudgery.  It can be fun, hopefully more often than when it isn’t.

But it is work.  You’re spending time creating something out of nothing. You’re researching how to make that something seem realistic (or to get your details right if it’s nonfiction).  And you have to fight all the distractions from external sources (day job, kids, housekeeping, food, sleep, social life) and internal sources (self-doubt, procrastination, bad advice, laziness, exhaustion, the internet).  We have to keep on task in a world that is getting more and more fragmented as it demands our attention in fifteen different places all at once and it wants you to pay attention RIGHT THIS SECOND CHECK THE THING CHECK THE THING!  Shutting all of that out is hard.  Creating something that doesn’t make you want to hurl your computer out the window along with the shattered remains of your self-esteem is hard.  Dealing with the uncomprehending stares, sniggers, and put-downs from people who just don’t get it (or who get a perverse pleasure from being malicious) is hard.  As writers, we go through all of this to craft something whose success or failure is totally at the mercy of the whims of hundreds of strangers.

And the fact that you keep going in the face of all these these obstacles deserves as much respect as the 9-5 careers that other folks have.  Never let anyone tell you different.

 

BOOKS BY WRITERS ON WRITING FICTION:

100 Things Every Writer Needs to Know by Scott Edelstein

Daily Rituals:  How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life  by Julia Cameron

Negotiating with the Dead:  A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood

Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

Zen in the Art of Writing:  Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury

Mark My Words:  Mark Twain on Writing by Mark Twain

Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale – The Final Chapter by Russell T. Davies

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing (2010 Edition)

 

GENRE-SPECIFIC ADVICE: FANTASY

How To Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

The Writer’s Guide to Fantasy Literature:  From Dragon’s Lair to Hero’s Quest by Philip Martin

The Wand in the Word:  Conversations with Writers of Fantasy by Leonard S. Marcus

Monsters and the Critics by J.R.R. Tolkien

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19 responses to “#BlogHop – Advice for New Writers

    • I have to remind myself of that sometimes. It’s easy to slip into the thought process of: “But this is writing! I’m not digging ditches or mining coal…so why is this so hard? I shouldn’t complain.” But then I have to step back and, like you said, remind myself that this is a vocation and it is work. Nothing wrong with that. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’ve described writing well. I also appreciated your list of books that you’ve found helpful. I’m glad you’re participating in the writers’ blog hop 🙂

    • You’re welcome, Violet! I hope you found them useful. And thank you for your kind words; I hope that readers and publishers agree with you. Happy writing!

  2. Yes, it is work… on those shark-wrestling days, I remind myself that I’d still rather be writing than cleaning toilets (even if that pays better). As Sara Davison says, press on!

    • Amen, Janet. I worked as a cleaning lady for 3 years, so I feel your pain. Writing is hard, but much better than that! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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