Writers and Artists—Burn
I was having a most
rewarding talk with a multi-published and lauded writer, and we found that, from my
modest perch and his lofty one, we came to see many of the writerly edicts as,
at best, helpful suggestions. Unfortunately some of these suggestions are
taught as indispensable commadments in creative writing classes, and repeated in interviews
by respected creatives.
Here is a summary of a few
of these suggestions, with a suggestion from me that if something is helpful to
you, keep and cherish it. But please, PLEASE— don’t parcel it out as a
commandment. We already have ten official ones, and many more unofficial ones,
taught at our parents’ knees.
1. WRITE EVERY DAY. It is
helpful for many, but in no way a measure of dedication or a predictor of good
2. READ A LOT OF SIMILAR
BOOKS TO THE GENRE YOU ARE WRITING. I do the opposite, especially while working
on a first draft. I don’t want “voice seepage” or derivative plotting. But some
find that reading a lot of similar books revved their engines. Either is fine.
3. NEVER GIVE UP. You’re
welcome to give up. Many times. As often as you need to.
4. NEVER ASSUME YOUR WORK
WILL BE THE EXCEPTION THAT ALLOWS YOU TO BREAK “THE RULES.” This is true, and I
don’t suggest anyone be presumptive of anything. But if we didn’t have rule-benders
we would never break new ground, either.
5. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND
YOUR WORK. That sounds nice and it is empowering. But I believe in something
bigger, and pray that I do the best work I can. Sometimes it isn’t all that, y’know.
If you believe in yourself that’s all right also.
6. IGNORE THIS BLOG POST AND
OTHER CURMUDGEONLY ONE LIKE IT. This, I’m afraid, I wholeheartedly agree with.
Be your own boss.