Here’s the most important writing advice I can give:
Stop making a big deal out of writing.
“Making a big deal” includes (but is no way limited to) the following:
- Finding the perfect desk, pen, writing software, or coffee shop to work.
- Writing random things just to feel like you’re still a writer.
- Hunting down your mental blocks, hang-ups, neuroses, and terrible personal history to free the creative soul within.
- Worrying at all about “inspiration” or “the muse” being present or absent.
- Worrying at all if you’re working hard enough (compared to other writers, compared to other professions, compared to other people’s impressions).
- Worrying at all about “finding your voice,” which is really just a retrospective conglomeration of all the voices you’ve chosen to tell your stories over many years.
- Worrying at all if you’re ready. You aren’t.
- Elaborately outlining or preparing your world or characters.
- Joining the right “professional” associations to “network.”
- Gazing with longing at becoming part of a writing “community.”
- Searching for ways to make writing easier or less messy.
- Searching for the perfect writing book, class, workshop, website, mentor, or…uh…blog post that has the secret.
What’s funny is that we know all of this already. We’re looking for ways to simultaneously simplify writing to make it easier and complicate writing to make it more magical.
Take the summer off from thinking about capital-W Writing and think instead about the thing(s) you’re writing. When a story exists to make you a writer, I can guarantee it will suck. When you exist to make a story, it changes a lot.