A week has passed since the RT Convention. My thoughts have settled. Well, at the very least, I no longer want to hide from people forever. Large conferences aren’t the natural habitat of an autistic like myself.
I managed it, somehow, at the very least.
Workshops were a large aspect of the convention, many geared toward writers. It’s taken a week for my thoughts to clear. I’ve come to the conclusion that my opinion on advice on writing remains unchanged.
Whenever ask for my advice on the subject of writing, I usually say: “Take all advice on writing with a healthy grain of salt.”
I might have to expand it ever so slightly.
Take all advice in general with a grain of salt.
I went to multiple workshops every day of the convention, barring maybe one day when I’d just reached my limit of sensory input. Just on the subject of series vs. serials vs. standalone, everyone had their opinions on what every author should do.
Author A believed writing a series to be a waste of time because no one read them anymore. Author B insisted that readers hate standalone novels and only want to read long series. Author C suggested a serial worked much better than a series.
Then there was of course suggestions on how to write in general.
Write what you know.
Write what you don’t know.
Write what you love.
Write what you fear.
For fuck’s sake, just fucking write. I often wonder if the adage of ‘those who can’t, teach’ isn’t a tiny bit true with writing. I’m always wary though of people who try to sell me their tried and true method as the ‘God’s honest truth.’ All the sage experienced author wisdom can occasionally amount to nothing more than pissing in the wind, particular if you never actually put words on paper.
If you’ve got a story in you, all the writer tips from others won’t get your words out of you. They can’t put your pen on your manuscript and bleed for you. You have to do the work.
Is all advice on writing shit?
Of course not.
Should you listen to everyone?
Of course not.
There are brilliant resources out there if you want to be a better writer. I even learned a bunch from some of the RT workshops. The key, I believe, is to be selective on what you allow to influence you.
I’m a sceptic in the body of an optimist. Whenever someone has the best ever shiny new way to do something, I’m always immediately hopeful yet equally distrustful. The trouble is, if you wait six months, someone’s going to have a new shiny to sell to you. It’s never ending.
So what to do?
Trust your gut instincts. Write what and how works best for you (not for someone else). Be open to advice, but not so open you begin to morph into someone else. Readers can sense inauthenticity (and they don’t like it.)
Neil Gaiman says it better than I do:
“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman