Wise words from the writers who've been there, done that and my observations, as a writer, for what they're worth.
Who Can You Trust?
There is so much advice out there for writers at all stages of the writing journey and most of it is helpful, other instructions defy belief. I look at the writers who have walked the walk and have earned the right to talk the talk for wise words.
It can be difficult to work out who has great advice to give and who has put out a book, article or blog just to get sales from a wannabe. From my experience don't click buy, beware the how-to books and articles on writing if they tell you that:
- You'll definitely get rich, and quickly. One try to get published and bam, you'll be earning millions. JH: Writers who got rich quick or claim that they did, are the exception to the rule. 99.9% of the time writing is playing the long game. I've been a steady income freelance writer since 2014. "Overnight success" is not for me, measured in money, although eating and having a home do play a part in the process. It's a compulsion from within to write, feel the buzz from writing and being read rather than megabucks that keeps me at my laptop.
- You should hire someone else to write the book or article that will draw in thousands of views and revenue. Effectively, they're asking you not to bother to put your energy, personality and words into the project because you can't, you need someone else. JH: Are you a writer or a seller? Moreover, why on earth would you want to hire someone else to write for you if you are a serious writer yourself? If you have a passion for words, expressing yourself and creating stories then shouldn't you be the one to do the hard work and reap the rewards in mind, achievement, soul and bank account? Can you tell that these two pieces of so called advice really bug me?
10 Great Writing Quotes... First Up, Hemingway
Below are 10 quotes about writing from writers who've offered constructive and universal advice that I've found helpful as I've gone from an imaginative child to amateur to professional writer over the years.
- “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” Ernest Hemingway. JH: The keep improving goal we try to make reality, it's hard work isn't it.
J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman
- The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary. J. K. Rowling. JH: They're two sides of the same coin, can you write without reading?
- “I suspect that most authors don't really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so.” Neil Gaiman. JH: Writers are human. We're often our own worst critics and who doesn't want praise from others for their efforts?
Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and George Eliot's Wisdom
- "Success is a journey, not a destination. It requires constant effort, vigilance and reevaluation." Mark Twain. JH: Enough said.
- "The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists." Charles Dickens. JH: True.
- The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words. George Eliot. JH: Swallowing a dictionary might make you learned but does it mean that you're readable, accessible and entertaining?
"Writing Is Architecture" and Take a Break
- “Writing is architectural. Letters become words, and words become sentences, and sentences become paragraphs, and paragraphs become chapters and chapters become books.” Veronica Chambers. JH: You can't argue with her.
- “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” Hilary Mantel. JH: When frustration, stagnation and doubt arrive or "the muse" doesn't want to play, walking away for a while can work wonders. Don't pressure yourself. That kills creativity.
Don't Give Up and Don't Be a Monster
- “I am resolved to write, write, and write. Nothing can turn me away from a path I have definitely set myself to follow.” Anais Nin. JH: Just Write. Do it. Get better. Keep going or you're not a writer, you're a stopper. Other people are allowed opinions but don't let them steal your dream. Keep the volume up on your cheerleaders, they keep you going.
- “A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity." Franz Kafka. JH: Don't be that monster!
Writer's block: Does it Exist?
Apologies to the brilliant author of the tome that I can't after a decade or so remember the title of or even their name but they presented a piece of wisdom in their book on writing that has stuck with me. It was about writer's block.
The book highlighted that no other profession has a "block" to fall back on.
The gist of their message was that you don't find an artist, brain surgeon, checkout operator, museum director or a member of an orchestra lamenting that they just aren't feeling the muse today so they can't possibly work. So why do writers do it? Good point, isn't it? Sometimes the muse needs a kick up the you-know-what.
Since then, I haven't used writer's block as a reason or excuse. Maybe the idea isn't ready to come out yet or I'm heading the wrong direction with a character and I need to unthread a little. Maybe my heart just isn't in the project. If there's a block, out comes the brain plunger to unblock it!
However, I appreciate that writer's block is a contentious issue and each person has their own opinion. Go with what you feel is true and never give up.
© 2022 Joanne Hayle