I have been writing a very long time. I have sought writing advice from every corner of the universe. Talked to writers. Read every writing book that was written. Subscribed to writing magazines. None of it helped me. It’s like a trumpet player telling you to blow in the small end.
Rather, I have struggled and developed and found ways to make writing work for me. It is my world. I have no plans to do anything else for the rest of my life.
There’s some basic advice that everyone should know and follow. Read, read and read some more. Write so much, so often, that writing becomes your primary form of communication. Show and don’t tell. Know your grammar but don’t let it limit your expression. Keep originals in a fire safe.
But everything else is bollocks. I can tell you exactly how I write. Unless you’re me, and I’m pretty sure you’re not, it would be meaningless. The things I do work because of who I am, how I work and what I’m trying to write. My advice won’t help you and your advice won’t help me. Writing requires a writer to discover their own writing formula.
For example, I don’t believe in editing, aside from correcting basic mistakes. I don’t do it and I won’t let anyone else edit my work either. I think editing ruins writing. If I don’t like what I’ve written, I start over. I need the whole piece to flow organically from first word to last, like an improvised piece of jazz. I don’t go changing things willy-nilly in the middle, because then it doesn’t come from what came before and what will come after. For me, most of writing is preparing to write. I spend months and years writing poetry describing every scene I expect to write. Then I read my pieces over and over until I’m ready to sit down and go from top to bottom without a break.
That’s the way to write. Now go do it. Said the idiot.
Every writer must discover their own method, their own subject, their own voice. No one can tell anyone how to do that. Only fools try.
So when someone gives writing advice, I disagree. They don’t know me. They don’t know what I want from my writing. Relative to my task, they know nothing.
Writing classes are the worst, a complete waste of time, except that they’re fun. Take one for fun. Don’t expect to learn anything meaningful.
Read and read and write and write until you can’t do either. That’s my advice.