Some Really Bad Writing Advice

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve read this sentence:

Swimming lesson. Not.The best way to learn writing is to write.

It comes mostly from pantsers who don’t want to learn story structure, who think it’s a straightjacket for producing formulaic pablum and they want no part of it.

When my middle daughter graduated from high school she wanted to write songs. We got her a small keyboard and I offered to give her lessons.

“No, that’s okay. I know what I’m doing.”

She was echoing what I’ve heard dozens of songwriters say: “Learning music theory will destroy my spontaneous creativity.”

Really? So you’re saying that me and Mozart and Dylan and Donald Fagen are drudges? I’m not the genius those three are, but I write better songs because I learned music theory, not in spite of it. Listen to Donald Fagen talk about composing the Steely Dan song Peg:

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Listening to Writing Advice. Or Not.

I think it's a diving boardHow do you know when to reject well-meaning but misguided writing advice, and when to gnaw your knuckles and knuckle under because someone else was given a brief clear glimpse of something you missed in your own work?

I’ve learned the answer to that the long hard way. It’s still more art than science.

Begin by asking yourself a few questions.

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How Can I Serve You Better?

what can I fetch for you?
what can I fetch for you?
Now that I’m not pushing to write 4,500 words a day or driving 7,000 miles in a month, I’ll be writing more fresh content here.

(I do so enjoy those shouts of joy from the crowd. Thank you.)

What are you struggling with? What’s missing? What are you curious about or confused about?

That’s what I’ll be writing about.

Favorite Bits of Storytelling Advice, and Questioning Maslow

Art Holcomb posting at Larry Brooks’ StoryFix blog: Smart list of 20 things you may not have thought about when writing. I particularly like #5. How ’bout you?

photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1242703 by Leonardo Barbosa http://www.sxc.hu/profile/leonardobc

Steven Pressfield: Blowing Off Maslow Here’s my take: we often confuse our “wants” with Maslow’s “needs.” Where Maslow says “food” we want to read “eating out” or at least “eating well.” Where Maslow says “shelter” we see a 3-car garage, or at least, a home we own rather than rent.

Maslow was right. We just twist his research into excuses not to do the work of making art. But go read the article at Steve’s site and see what you think.

I Will Never Adjust My Art to Suit You

person from a photo http://www.sxc.hu/photo/751032 by Jason Antony http://www.sxc.hu/profile/vancanjay child's drawing http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1422728 by the Horton Group http://www.hortongroup.com/Authors seem to think they need to please their fans, or Amazon, or a publisher. I know I’ll be the voice no one wants to hear, but I don’t change my art for anyone. And yeah, you’re gonna say that I’ll never be a best-seller; that if you don’t bend to the market, you’ll never get popular.

But I already have real-life experience which says otherwise.
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The Future of (Your) Publishing – Guest Post by John Work

The Canal by John WorkJohn Work is an author. He posted this on a Linked In group and graciously gave permission for me to reprint it here. Emphasis throughout is mine.

I’m a self-published author, both in ebook and paperback print formats. I’ve been a member of this [Linked In] group for about a year. I’ve noticed that authors who are already traditionally published frequently tell writers who are considering self-publishing their works that traditional publishing is the only way to go – and that if the aspiring writer just sticks with it, sends enough quality manuscripts to agents or publishers, and keeps at it for five, ten or twenty years, that elusive contract offer will eventually come along. You just have to persist, or so I’ve read.

Balderdash.
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