I’ve been writing for about twenty-five years. It’s really funny that fifteen years ago, I had a site devoted to giving out writing tips. Nowadays I don’t feel qualified to give out writing tips, despite the length of time I’ve been writing fiction. Or maybe it’s that I’ve learned in the meantime that writing tips are a bit worthless. I only discovered true happiness with writing when I finally tossed aside all the tips that had taken up residence inside my head and wrote what I wanted, how I wanted. Sadly, that’s only been in the last ten years or so.
I freely admit that maybe I needed those tips at the time so that I could become the writer I am today. Then again, maybe they delayed my development as a writer. I’ll likely never know.
I also freely admit that I am far from done learning how to write. The difference these days is that I learn from reading others and practicing my own craft, trying to find ways to get the words out so they translate best to the biggest portion of my reading audience. (You can never please everyone, and you’ll go mad if you try.) That’s not to say I don’t read select craft books, because I do. But I avoid the kind of tips that proliferate online in favor of in-depth discussions of topics meant to help writers write good stories.
How can I offer advice to others when I still have so much to learn?
Still, sometimes I want to say to some writers I see scouring the forums and blogs for the secret to better writing: Stop! Just write. Write and write and write, and complete things. Even the terrible things. Finish those stories you start, because that’s how I learned. I took a giant leap forward when I finally started finishing the stories I started.
In the end, though, I have no idea if what worked for me will work for them. Maybe they need those tips. Or maybe they’re just delaying their own development as writers. We’ll likely never know.
I don’t offer writing tips because I don’t feel qualified. I know only what works for me as a reader and a writer. And I use adverbs when I want and I write run on sentences and I quite often mix my metaphors. But it’s what I want and how I want and my writing hasn’t been the same since. It’s lovely to own your art as uniquely yours.