Here are three terrible pieces of writing advice I hear most often…and how to avoid them.
I’ve heard this for years and in all kinds of places, and for me, it did not work. It did cause me to burn out and stop writing for weeks and months at a time, because I was simply too exhausted.
To avoid this, I think it’s better to look over your schedule – either weekly or monthly – and see where you have time to schedule writing and then when you have the most energy to dedicate to your writing. Personally I believe it’s better to consistently write only 1-3 times a week rather than try to write every day, start off strong, then flame out because you were just too tired to keep up with the schedule.
So in the writing world, there are usually plotters and there are pantsers
The plotters are the ones that have the very, very, very detailed outlines of pages and pages and pages. The pantsers just go by the seat of their pants and they just start.
Both camps believe they are right, that they have the right way – and maybe for them, they do, but I personally like to have the middle ground, which doesn’t necessarily have a name, although I have heard it called plotser (not sure I love that).
For me, I figure out what information is needed so I know how to start, how to end, and some juicy scenes in the middle to get me from Point A to Point B. I also need to know my characters and then I’m pretty much ready to start my first draft. This will be different for every writer, so you will need to experiment and play to see what feels “just right” for you.
Note…if you need to stop at some point during the first draft to flesh out some more scenes or more characters, I think that’s perfectly fine.
Edit As You Go
This, for me, is the absolute worst advice I’ve ever heard – so please, just don’t. I have seen this stop writers from finishing their first draft way too many times. They start obsessing over that first chapter, or the beginning, trying to get everything perfect that they never get to the end.
Fixing the occasional typo, or having some great idea when you’re finishing up a chapter that will help that particular chapter, isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about spinning your wheels working on the chapters you’ve already written because you’re not sure how to end the story or your characters start doing things that feel out of your control. Writers that do this think if they get the beginning just right that the ending will come and I’ve never seen it work.
My first advice to alleviate this problem is have somewhere you can keep notes for revision. It can be in the document itself, a separate document, or a writer’s notebook. When you have ideas about how to make your beginning better because of something you just wrote in the middle, write it down and keep going. My other advice is to see where you are when you get stuck and want to keep revising previous chapters and where you want to go and then start writing as if your book was exactly how you want it – you can always fix things and make things work later.
What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard? Let me know in the comments below.