Pithy Writing Advice

I don't hate all writing advice but I am a bit choosy, and I tire often of too much navel gazing in this area. Also, a little bit of advice goes a long way.

In that vein there are a couple of ideas about writing for "new" writers that have been floating across my mind recently. And I've stolen this all from various podcasts and essays and books, so while I've curated this collection, I am not responsible for its production.

  • You don't have to write. There are more effective ways to make a living, there are more social things you could be doing with your time, so if your writing is making you miserable, then don't do it. It's ok.
  • We're horrible judges of the comparative quality of our own work, particularly in the moment. What feels good and what feels bad when we're writing something, isn't always a very good indicator of quality.
  • Crap gets published all the time. Not submitting things for publication because you think it's crap is probably an elaborate self-deceiving procrastination ruse.
  • Beginnings matter a lot, probably more than any other singular part. If nothing else, beginnings need to be punchy. You certainly don't have more than a page in which to suck people in, in general, and beginnings which drag lead no where good.
  • Cleverness and ingenuity are not substitutes for emotional content.
  • Big projects are made manageable by subdividing them into smaller more manageable pieces.
  • One need not formally outline, or systematically do some sort of pre-writing, but sitting down in front of your computer or notebook with a blank page/window open without the experience of working through what you plan to write--even if it's only in your head--you're probably going to frustrate yourself.
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