There is no shortage of advice for writers.
And, honestly, the advice you like least is probably the best for you. Why do I say that? Because the advice that rankles you the most is probably digging at the precise issue that you have as a writer and are trying to ignore. Or, is that just my Freudian slip showing?
I hate to admit it, but I fall into the classic traps of wanna-be fiction writer all the time. My biggest failing? “I never have enough time to write!” Even I know that’s total bullshit, because all I have to do is stop watching any and all television and suddenly I have enough time to write War and Peace. The truth is that I just haven’t made particular kinds of writing a priority. After all, I did manage to find the time to write all the Friday posts for this month, didn’t I?
As it turns out, that is the first of Twenty-Five Lies Writers Tell Themselves (And Start To Believe), as outlined by Chuck Wendig at his blog, TerribleMinds. Sadly, it’s far from the only terrible lie that I’ve told myself. The one I have internalized so hard that I ended up with a degree in Marketing and working in the computer business is number 24; “Writing Is Not A Viable Career / I Can Never Do This Professionally!” If I had only believed in myself and all the critical voices, albeit well-meaning ones, coming from all corners, I’d be an author by now. Well, I console myself with the thought that there’s still time.
The only one I quibble with, at least in the sense of it being a “problem”, is number 7; “My Characters Are In Control!”
I think most authors would kill kittens to have their characters come to life to the point that they take control of the story! (I know I would!)
But, this leads me to some completely different kind of advice. This advice comes from Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother, Homeland and one of my favorite story collections Overclocked: Stories of Future Present, writing for Locus magazine, in an article titled, Where Characters Come From. He suggests in this article that we have internal “people simulators” who we use to, among other things, predict our friends’ and acquaintances’ behavior. Think about what your best friend might say to you if you asked them for advice about, say, writer’s block. Can you picture them and hear their advice? Well, Doctorow thinks we use that same mechanism to create characters. And, when we really get to “know” them, it’s because we can picture them and hear them the same way we can our friends. He goes on to say that when the characters “come alive” it’s because we can fully imagine them using our “people simulators”.
And, I have to agree, since I’ve done exactly what he’s writing about!
So, there’s enough fuel to get your writing fired up, I hope, for the weekend.
Now get to it!