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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Advice Filter

Romance Writers of America are having their annual Do somewhere not near me, and I'm tracking the panels through the Twitter hashtag #RWA14 (much like I follow San Diego Comic Con through #SDCC14). If you're on Twitter I recommend checking out the hashtags to see what's going on. There's a ton of awesome authors and agents there. There's a lot of great advice.

And then there's the stuff that makes me laugh.

Like the author who lives entirely off their writing who says there is no excuse not to work. I mean, I agree to a point. When you make writing a full-time job, have no kids, have no boss, have no elderly parents who need you to drive them to the doctor, Author X is right: there is no excuse short of a hospital stay. You should be able to get a few hundred words written.

But the advances aren't as generous as people might imagine and 95% of authors work a job or two other than writing. And have families. And have other obligations. Setting aside the two hours after you put the kids to bed to write doesn't work when you spend the night at the ER with a baby running a 104 fever.

My Advice: Plan to write five days a week, but realize that life happens. Beating yourself up over missed word count is useless. Just wake up the next day with the same intent of getting the word count in and roll with the punches.

Caveat: If you have a contractual deadline, you need to meet it. Usually you have these months in advance so you shouldn't have a problem. If there is a serious issue (like a death in the family), let the editor know. They understand, but failure to turn a book in by deadline affects everything from the cover artist's schedule to the imprints catalog and release calendar. Be professional.

... there's more. There's always more. Every author whose books sell well has given writing advice. From the oft repeated (and very stupid) "Write what you know!" to the simple "Don't quit."

The advice piles up, and you know what? Not all of it will work for you. What you do, how you write, that's not going to be the same as anyone else. Not completely same.

You might subscribe to one school of thought on writing or editing. Maybe you're a Plotter, or a Pantster, or an Architect, or a Gardner. Maybe you only write in sequence. Maybe you write three pages in three books every third day. If it works for you, then it works PERIOD. You don't need to excuse your writing style to anyone.

The only wrong way to write is to never write at all.

M'kay? So while you're collecting all this great writing advice during Con season, make sure you filter it for what works for you. Take what works, and toss the rest (or at least tuck it away for a later date).

Write what you love.
Keep writing.
Don't quit.
Make it good.
Forgive yourself.
Accept that rough drafts are rough. Love them in their imperfection.
Don't quit.
Read widely.
Look for the joy in every moment.
Don't quit.
Keep writing.

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