I am so tired of conflicting advice about writing – mainly because I tend to follow whatever advice I get, if it sounds good.
For instance, I am writing a novel (how many times have you read those words in a blog?) and I get struck wordless or plotless every three or four days, sometimes daily. I went online looking for advice on how to deal with it and one idea I that sounded workable was to write something else for a couple of weeks, work on another novel or other flesh out other ideas I have. Come back to that novel after two weeks, and it will be a lot easier, a lot smoother, because I gave myself a break, and all writers need a break.
I like this advice because it gives me permission – and the justification – to stop banging away at something that is not working, isn’t yielding, and turn to something that is more exciting and giving, at least for a while. I have always felt a little guilty when I’ve did it before, like I had abandoned the book, and was admitting defeat.
So, set my sci-fi novel aside, immediately, and turned my attention to brainstorming for a thriller instead. I intended to spend the full two weeks brainstorming plots and characters for it, so I would have something viable on hand when I finally polished my final draft.
But, I never learn. A couple days after reading that blog post, I was back on the net, surfing around looking for more good writing advice. And what did I find? Another blog, but this was advising writers against jumping around from idea to idea and story to story and book to book. If you keep jumping around like that, you will never finish your novel. If you want to finish your novel, you have to commit to it, and you have to stick with it, working on it and nothing else until it is finished. You will never learn to start and finish a novel if you don’t learn to stick with one until you have finished it, and so on.
This advice just pushed me back to square one. Every bit of that advice made sense to me. I am trying to finish a novel, not just a first draft, the entire novel, so any advice I get that points me towards that goal is important, is relevant, is helpful. But, I am now sitting on two conflicting pieces of advice.
Give yourself a break versus work on it every day, until you finish it. Jump around versus stick with it. Someone, anyone else would tell me to follow whichever sounds best to me, or try them both out and go with the one that works best. But, they both sound good, this time, and they both work – and don’t.
Honestly, sticking with it every day is as difficult as trying to get back in the rhythm of a story after being away from it for two weeks.
So, I’m conflicted. I never should have kept looking for advice after I found something that might have worked for me. Writer’s advice varies, contradicts itself, because it is for different writer’s with different personalities at different stages in the writing process, or in their lives. It is not all for me, or someone like me, and it doesn’t necessarily apply to where I am now, in the process.
The best advice is to ignore all advice – except the advice that applies to who you are, where you are in your life and what you are doing and trying to accomplish. Try out any strategy that you think might work, then pick one and stick with it.
I haven’t, yet. But I will.