I don’t know if I have mentioned before that I subscribe to a newsletter called “Advice for Writers“. Basically, on a daily basis I get a quote with a little pearl of wisdom, this week’s subject lines include: do not feel guilty about idleness, you have to be willing to look stupid, editors are fatal, and writers must fortify themselves.
I have been stuck between writing the opening scene the way I want to write it and following the advice given to me in the writing class. Originally, I had the opening scene going right into the action, ok so maybe there was a little telling going on, but it was pretty much set in what was going on with my main character Tad. Last fall in that writing class I was told: Tad should not be your main character, your inciting incident happens before the scene and it happens to the brother, blah, blah, blah.
This has of course, led me to read other writing books to either validate my opinion that my teacher was off his rocker or prove to me that he is right (what can I say I am a doubting Thomasina) – and of course, all that newly read advice has made me fiddle even more with the scene. I sent it to my sister yesterday and she comes back with “I like it, but what I liked about the first draft is that you were sucked instantly into the mystery of what Tad finds”.
This may explain why I felt that the quotes on “Advice for Writers” this week seemed to be curated just for me (I am sure that was Jon Winokor’s intention of course hahaha).
- Do not feel guilty about idleness: As a writer there are always periods of idleness, moments where your brain just won’t function the way you want it to function. There is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes your writer’s brain needs a break. This does not mean that somewhere in the background your mind isn’t writing and rewriting the scene that you can’t get past. So maybe having a brain set on percolate isn’t so bad after all.
- You have to be willing to look stupid: There is always some stupidity involved in taking a risk. Whether it be you gave your main character green hair or you quit your day job to write full time, or you decided that there was going to be an alien ship landing in the middle of your Gatsby-esque party, writing is full of stupid moments. It is ok. Some of them may work, some of them won’t. Dust yourself off, forge on. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite – at some point all the stupid sentences and ideas will unlock a brilliant nugget.
- Editors are Fatal: Ok, I know that editors are necessary, but you can’t listen to every editor you come across and you can’t incorporate every piece of advice into your story. The only way that you can write successfully is to write your story as you want to write it. I truly believe that if you start listening to all the advice you get on how to write your story you end up with something you hate. Take in the advice, cull, do as you please with your writing.
- Writers must fortify themselves: You need thick skin to be a writer. There will be people who love what you write, there will be people who hate what you write. Learn to let it roll over you. Don’t let their opinions discourage you.