Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Of Aspiring Authors and Good Advice

I'm an advice whore, I admit it. I like to collect advice, let it sink in, write it down in a fancy journal and ferret it away for later inspiration when things look dark and bleak. I especially like writing advice, because if ever there was a career path that throws people into the abyss and asks they make their own way out again, this is it. What works for one person doesn't work for another. What works for one book may not work for another, even when penned by the same author. Writing is a creative process and while it can (and should, by those hoping to make it a career) become a professional enterprise, it can't be managed in the same way a shipping company, or a widget factory, or a fast food restaurant is. Just doesn't work that way. There are no SOPs, no industry standard for "do A then B and then C and the Times Bestseller List is yours, mwahahaha!" Some practices work for some people some of the time. That's the closest to a definitive statement of success we writers have. That and "KEEP WRITING" of course.

So, in trying to figure out my own writer's journey (not to be confused with the hero's journey...the writer's journey has far more empty calories and coffee stained mugs littering its footpaths), I do turn to the advice of others who've gone this way before. A lot of the advice out there is pretty sentiment that's pretty much meaningless, but every now and then I stumble across something that really resonates with me. In fact, the latter happened just this morning.

While tooling around on Chuck Wendig's blog, I came across his post "25 Things I Want to Say to So-Called "Aspiring Writers." I adore Chuck, I adore his blog, and I love his no-nonsense take on just about everything writing related. What really stuck out to me, from this list of 25, was number 6 - Yes, It Always Feels This Way.

"You will always have days when you feel like an amateur. When it feels like everybody else is better than you. You will have this nagging suspicion that someone will eventually find you out, call you on your bullshit, realize you’re the literary equivalent of a vagrant painting on the side of a wall with a piece of calcified poop. You will have days when the blank page is like being lost in a blizzard. You will sometimes hate what you wrote today, or yesterday, or ten years ago. Bad days are part of the package. You just have to shut them out, swaddle your head in tinfoil, and keep writing anyway."

Now that is some great advice.

Check out the rest of Chuck Wendig's "25 Things I Want to Say to So-Called "Aspiring Writers" here.


  1. I'm TOTALLY with you on the advice whoring thing. >.> Especially of the writerly variety. I keep hoping that I might come across a tidbit I haven't heard yet, or ingest some golden nugget of hearsay that happens to bounce off just the right brain cell and forever alter me for the better. I keep looking because it does happen occasionally. Or at least, I like to think it does. >.>

    Thanks for the link! I particularly liked #11. For some reason, when I started writing I had the stubborn impression that talent was like eye color--you get what you're born with and you adjust your wardrobe to flatter that hue. Maybe I just spent too much time being too intimidated/uninformed to bust my buns and really developing what I already had to work with.

    ~Angela Blount

    1. I'm such an advice hoarder. I know there isn't a "secret" to publishing, but I still like to equip myself as best I can with words of wisdom from those who've been down this road before. I'm like you...every now and then a golden nugget will stick and hold meaning. Love it when that happens!

      I recently read Stephen King's "On Writing" and holy WOW did that have some great advice. It helped me a lot. I think I'm going to read Kristen Lamb's social media guide next.