Good Advice from PCW

It’s been a while since I reminded people that they should be following Patricia C. Wrede’s blog because she gives some excellent writing advice every Wednesday. This week’s post is, in my opinion, a must-read for any author who has ever found themselves stuck or dissatisfied with what they were writing:

Making It Harder Than It Needs To Be

Basically the advice is trust your gut and write what you want to write in the way you want to write it.

I spent a year writing short stories early on because some agent told me they could never sell my novel to the Big 5 if I didn’t have short story credits first. I’m not one for reading short stories and am more naturally inclined towards novel-length ideas and character development so it was a complete change for me.

I didn’t do bad at it (I ended up with some nice personal rejections from some big markets) but man I wish I’d just kept writing novels instead.

Every author probably has something like that. Being told you should plot when you’re a pantser. Or pants when you’re a plotter. Or being told what to write, when to write, or how to write it.

The truth is you need to follow your gut and do what moves you forward and makes it enjoyable for you. Life is too short to not live it in the best way for you.

Also, if you’re looking for a good book about being a writer or living a creative life, I just finished and really liked Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was excellent in a number of ways, but I think each writer will probably take very different things from it depending on their own experiences. Well worth the $10 Amazon is currently charging for the paperback.

Learning To Put Up A Wall

I just responded to a post on another blog that was asking for some how-to-write book recommendations and earlier today I had a Strengths coaching call (I’ve stepped back from coaching for WBF, but I still do private coaching), and I realized that one of the essential skills I’ve had to learn and am still learning as a writer is how to put up a wall against well-meaning advice that doesn’t fit me.

One of the key benefits for me of taking the initial Write Better-Faster class with Becca Syme was that it walked me through how I was a specific type of writer (an almost complete pantser) and how other writers were not.

That let me put up a wall against advice that would work for a plotter but not a pantser.

So, for example, the presentation I watched where an author pulled out their two-inch-thick, three-ring binder that they spend six months preparing before they ever write word one, was not a presentation for me. I was able to put up a mental wall and let that just flow right on by.

But for someone else, that could be an absolutely great approach.

Same with advertising advice.

I’m a huge advocate of using AMS ads. It fits my Strategic Strength and makes my anti-social Relator happy. But it’s become clear to me that there are some people who are not well-suited to using AMS ads. Just like I am not well-suited to throwing book birthday blog blasts or (shudder) live-posting a video in a Facebook group.

I’m convinced that part of the journey of finding your successful writer path is learning how to put up a wall against the bad advice that isn’t going to work for you.

The author I was coaching today can write a novel a month without breaking a sweat. And those novels are good enough to sell tens of thousands of copies upon release. So that author needs to put up the wall against the “you can’t write fast AND good” crowd.

But other authors I’ve coached need lots of time to ruminate on their plot and polish it until it’s a shiny jewel before they ever start writing, so they need to put up a wall against the “just sit down and write and the story will come” crowd.

There is no one true way to do this. And sure there can be room for improvement here or there, but honestly the biggest struggle I’ve seen in my coaching is the author who is working against themselves because they can’t put up that well against well-meaning but bad (for them) advice.

So find who you are and then build your walls and move forward doing what works for you. (Unless you’re high in Woo or Connectedness and the idea of building a wall to keep others out is horrifying. Then don’t. See how that works?)