Monday, March 9, 2009

Keep Writing

Everyone talks about the "rules" of writing. They make lists, of the ten things, or the fifteen things, or the fifty things that writers "need" to do, or "must" do. I've never much cared for lists or rules, myself. At one point, I was convinced that the only rule that mattered was "know when and how to break the rules".

I was mostly right, too, I feel. There is one other rule, though, that means more than all the others combined: keep writing.

Keep writing. Critics, especially family and friends, rarely have anything useful to offer. Either they like it or they don't, and it's either because of how they feel about you or how they feel about the book, and it's next to impossible to determine which it is. Besides, they may not be your target audience, anyway.

Keep writing. You may not be good, but if you stop writing then you'll never get better. Read books (not books on writing, just regular books), and study how the author writes. Ask yourself what works for you and what doesn't. Take classes, read articles, ask questions, and take notes, but don't stop writing. It's like a muscle: if you stop exercising it, then it will only get weaker.

Keep writing. You may be tempted to take the whole project and toss it in the sewer, but don't throw anything away, ever. You'll never know when something that you've written for one project will prove useful or even vital in another. If it came from your mind, then it is never worthless, so never treat it as such. You just may write the "great American novel" from something that you once decided was pure garbage. Compost makes great fertilizer, after all. File it for future reference, but don't discard it.

Keep writing. It's hard, it takes forever, and you'll almost never be satisfied completely with what you've created, but none of those are reasons to quit. If your story isn't going anywhere, then give it somewhere to go. Create a conflict, and then, in the course of the story, resolve it somehow.

Keep writing. Even if you never believe that you'll accomplish anything, and even if no one else ever believes it, you can only succeed if you act regardless of what anyone, including yourself, believes.

Just keep writing.

1 comment:

  1. Stephen,
    I am an amature writer who really enjoys the writing, but I am always questioning how others would view my work. Can you give some advice as to how you get feedback from outside sources? It would be most appreciated. Best regards - Zane

    ReplyDelete