As every writer knows, there is a ton of bad writing advice out there. Ten things you should NEVER do. Ten things you should ALWAYS do. Writers, particularly unpublished ones, are susceptible to self-doubt, and therefore are vulnerable to the kind of “help” based on telling them they are idiots.
Relying on the advice of someone who thinks you are an idiot (but who can remedy your stupidity if you give them enough money) is about as surefire a recipe for failure as I can imagine.
There used to be vanity presses. Now there are businesses to assist people who want to self-publish. Never mind that everything you need to know about self-publishing is available for free or at low cost on the Internet.
Follow This Advice (for Free)
Know where you are going
Before you start work, sketch out your goals for the scene you are writing. Jot them on the back of envelope or an old bill if you want, but write them down. The three or four minutes you spend writing them down will be repaid many times over.
This is especially good advice if you, like me, are the sort of person who writes to figure out what you are thinking. The work goes much better if you have some idea what you are thinking before you start writing. Trust me.
Once you know where you are going, just write.
Kate Laity blogged about this at the Knife and Quill. Her message is short and to the point:
Shut up and write.
Once you start the journey, finish it. Do not second guess (not yet). Keep going. Practice is how you improve. Nothing else.
People have different ways of doing this. Some lock their computers off from the Internet; I’ve found this impractical.
The strategy is simple:
1. Work on a task for 25 minutes.
2. Take a 5-minute break.
3. Work for another 25 minutes.
4. After 3 or 4 work sessions, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
It Is About the Journey
This advice, none of which is original to me, has advantages. No grandiose goals, no self-punishment, no money spent. And real progress.