Read Around the Rainbow is a blogging project featuring yours truly, A.L. Lester, Ofelia Gränd, Holly Day, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector, Addison Albright, Fiona Glass, Lilian Francis, and Ellie Thomas. Every month, we pick a topic and then we blog about it. Check the other blog posts by clicking the RAtR widget in the sidebar, or the links at the bottom of this post.
The RAtR topic for November is Writing advice that I take with a grain of salt.
Don’t get me started. LOL.
First when I decided to try to write a story and publish it, I devoured all the writing advice I could find, but even as a complete newbie some of the advice irked me. For example; these days I’m a morning person, but for the longest time of my life, I was a night owl. I always had a hard time getting started in the morning at the day job, I never really got into my groove until after lunch, and I was always my most creative in the evenings, or even at night. So when I first started writing, I was writing late at night, until 2 or 3 am. So “always write in the mornings” didn’t sit well with me because my brain wasn’t working that way. Yes, these days I write in the mornings, but I became a morning person first…because of age. (I’m fifty now, and being awake all night long is for young people…she said and went to bed at 9pm 😆) So while my preferred writing time nowadays is before the rooster wakes up o’clock, it’s because I started waking up at that hour and had nothing else to do.
So the truth is that I take all writing advice with a grain (or a scoop) of salt, because all writers are different people, in different places in their lives. Also, something that works for you for a while, might change later (see my morning person story above), so there’s no universal writing truth that works for everyone.
Not even Thou Shalt Always Outline. (No thank you, if I outline, my brain thinks the story is done and refuses to work with it anymore).
But my biggest writing advice pet peeve is neither always write in the mornings nor if you don’t plot, your story will suck for the rest of time!
No, it’s write first, edit later.
It’s one of the cornerstones of NaNoWriMo, well-meaning people of the internet tells us not to, and John Steinbeck told us not to as you can see in the quote above, that must mean it’s true?
I’m a discovery writer, a pantser, someone who doesn’t plot before I write. I start with a vague idea and let the characters lead the way. That means sometimes things change during the writing process, that a character goes off in a different direction than I first thought it would, that I get an epiphany “oh, I should do this, so that can happen.” Basically, if something I wrote doesn’t correspond to something that happened earlier in the manuscript, I don’t make a note to go back and change it later, I go back and change it right away. I also go through my manuscript to make everything is in line with this new development.
John Steinbeck must be so disappointed in me.
Maybe that approach doesn’t work for someone who writes 500-page novels because it would take forever to go through that kind of story every time something changes, but it works for me. And that’s the whole idea of my blog post. Do what feels right and ignore what doesn’t work for you.
There’s one exception, there’s one piece of writing advice I think is universally important and true: if you want to write, you need to read. And I’m not budging on that one 😁
Don’t forget to check out my fellow RatR authors to see what their writing advice pet peeves are. I can’t wait to find out!
15 thoughts on “Read Around the Rainbow: Writing Advice I Take With a Grain of Salt”
John Steinbeck can be disappointed in us both together 🙂
Same. Pantser and cannot continue until I’ve gone back and made every change that the new bit requires. Alas.
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The only time I go back is if it’s a major event I need to change, otherwise, I save it for the second round. But as you say, whatever works for you 😊
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You’re just showing off now. LOL
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Nell, I’m exactly the same! If I add something that affects what I’ve already written I’ll go back amd make changes straightaway – purely because I’d forget otherwise!! 😆
Great post. I’m with you on the outlining, but not so much on the write first, edit later. I used to go back and edit straight away, but I eventually found it was too much of a time-suck and I’d get mired in all the rewrites and never finish anything. Now I try not to edit until the whole story/book is finished – although I still make an exception if it’s something a. very minor or b. so major that it will change the direction of the whole thing.
I am also not at all a morning person! I’ve started to realize, getting older, just how much the world is designed *for* morning people – so unfair! :p I also edit throughout – I usually get into the writing groove by rereading the most recent chunk I’ve written, and I usually end up fiddling with it a little, and then that slides into writing more.
I am barely more than a pantser. I—normally—know how the story begins and ends, and only occasionally how it’s going to get there. And I fight myself not to go back and edit. It is my goal. It is always my goal! But mostly, I fight the impulse until my brain can’t take it anymore and refuses to move forward, and then I give in and go back and edit. LOL