A blog post popped up on my computer today that angered me. Designed for writers, it was headed, ‘What you’re doing wrong’. It’s not the first time I’ve encountered headings like this. I just won’t read negative blog posts. Tell me, how to do something, yes, but negative nancies can go confuse someone else.
Why must we constantly focus on the word ‘wrong’? This insinuates writing is going to be marked. We’re not in school, it’s not, readers will decide when they flick to page 1 and then buy our book. If it’s not their taste, well, that’s life.
It annoys me when someone tries to impose their opinions on another. Just because someone disagrees with someone else’s style, it doesn’t mean that person is right, and by implication that the other person is ‘wrong’. There’s that word again!
Stylistic decisions are individual, that’s your voice, don’t let someone else say you’re ‘wrong’, because as Neil Gaiman says: “Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.”
Writers are already plagued with self doubt, why must we make it harder for ourselves to navigate the writing path? Writers do not need to be told their writing voice is ‘wrong’.
If you’re doing some or all or more of these things, you’re on the right path:
- “Read, read, read,” to quote William Faulkner (heck, A LOT of people say the same thing a variety of ways).
- Write everyday: writing everyday makes your writing flow. Set up your “tortoise enclosure”. And if you don’t know what that is, and are curious, Google: “John Cleese, tortoise enclosure.”
- Learn your craft. Learn the difference between passive v active voice, learn grammar, learn pace, learn point of view, learn dialogue, learn character development. And just when you think you’re grasping the basics, you’ll find there’s even more to learn. There’s always room to grow. There’s always someone who you can learn from, no matter their age.
- Read aloud: this allows you to pick up missed words and listen for lyricism.
- Write something you love, not something for the market.
- Get involved with the writing community and have your work critiqued. My work improved exponentially after I joined in, after resisting for damned too long. I wish I’d done this step differently. And remember, when you critique, praise the good as well the confusing. If we don’t know what the heck is working, how on earth do we develop the good stuff?
Can you think of anything else?