Posted in Blogging, nonfiction, postaday, Wednesday Whatever!, writing

Wednesday Whatever!

Today I want to talk about …. Writing advice. I think I’ve touched on this a time or two before, so bear with me. I had a small conversation with my friend Kim over at Silently Heard Once about writing advice. Oh, by the way, go visit Kim if you like poetry and good discussions on things that matter. She’s a wickedly good poet.

Anyway, we touched on reading writing advice and how much it scared us both. So much so we couldn’t write! We doubted ourselves so much because we couldn’t write like people would say we SHOULD write. So we didn’t write at all.

In my case, I was pretty much a newbie on blogging. Just starting out on this blog and wanting to write stories so much I dreamed of them. I was scared to write them down and put them out there. Sure I had a blog for cooking, recipes and such. I wrote on that for at least a year before I started this blog. To me though that was different. It was recipes. It was cooking. It was about food.

This blog was scary to start. Why? Because it was about writing. Writing stories. Writing characters. Writing something that someone else actually wanted to read and enjoyed the experience! I had kept the love of writing stories to myself for so many years that I was scared to death to put my work out there to be read by strangers.

I also had a conversation many months ago with my mentor and good, good friend Maddie Cochere from Breezy Books. (If you like funny books with a mystery go check her out!) I told her of my fears and she told me to stop reading writing advice! Which thanks to her I have. Whew.

Now, I’m not saying writing advice is a bad thing. Nor am I saying no one should follow it. What I am saying is this….read, apply and believe with caution. Don’t be like me. Don’t think all writing advice should be followed. Because if you try to do that you will just drive yourself crazy(ier) and come up against a wall you can’t climb over.

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Take what writing advice makes the most sense for YOU. If you feel you can only ‘write what you know’, then go for it. Just don’t be afraid to write what you DON’T know. That’s what research is for.

For every ‘do’ in writing there is a ‘don’t’. Eh, DO what makes you happy and what makes you proud to put out there. DON’T be afraid to put your writing in front of people. That’s how we learn. That’s how we grow as writers.

I’ve also heard this…When you are not writing, read!

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Well, that is good advice if someone doesn’t have a life at all. Now me, I have the husband to take care of, the house, bills to pay, groceries to buy, people to talk to. I have a life! I can’t be reading as much as writing or nothing else gets done. Hell, some weeks I can’t even write because I have too many other things to do and it’s exhausting. I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit and just read a book. It’s been that long.

Would I love to? Hell yeah! Do I have the time? Hell no! I do what I can. When I have time and the energy, I write. Because right now that’s what I need. I need to get my stories out. I don’t need to acquire someone else’s story. Sorry. Nothing personal. I’m sure many of you understand what I mean. I love books. I’ve read countless books in my life. I want to read countless more. But not right now. Sorry, Mr. King. When I become as rich as you I will hire someone to do all these other silly things. Until then, well, reading is not high on my priority list and I don’t feel bad for it.

So, what I’m saying is this….do what works for you. Don’t be afraid of writing what you want. Pay attention to the writing advice that works for YOU. Don’t follow blindly. You have a brain, use it. Just because some big name writer says it, doesn’t make it useful for you, just them. There will only ever be one Stephen King, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman. Thank the goddess’. And there is only one YOU.

 

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What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Mi Vida Loca, nonfiction, postaday, writing

My Thoughts on the Writing Process

You notice my title says, ‘My thoughts’, not advice, as I have none. These are just some thoughts that I have swirling in my head as I finish my edits on A Case of Deceit.

When I first starting seriously writing The Canine Caper and getting it ready to publish I made the mistake of reading all the posts I could find on how to write. It really was a mistake, as it scared the crap out of me! It not only scared me, it made me doubt I could write, it made me question if I should write. It also confused the hell out of me.

There was/is so much conflicting advice out there by so-called “experts”. There was advice from authors, publishers, agents, all sorts of people! There was advice from people who only wrote books on how to write! They never wrote an actual novel, or memoir, or autobiography. Just books on how to write…books! See why I was so confused?

An expert by definition is;

ex·pert
ˈekˌspərt/
noun
  1. 1.
    a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.
    “experts in child development”
    synonyms: specialist, authority, pundit; More

adjective
  1. 1.
    having or involving authoritative knowledge.
    “he had received expert academic advice”

 

One day in the future I hope to become an expert on writing books. Because I would have lots of books that I have actually written and sold, and not just because I want to give out advice. I want to be able to say…I’m an expert because I have done it so often and whatever I’m doing seems to be working! Right now I’m a novice. Complete newbie. Kind of.

I’ve written 714 posts on this blog alone. I had a blog before this and I have another one for my books. That might make me an expert on blog posts, but not necessarily writing. Just because you have done a lot of something doesn’t mean you’ve done it well, or right. Then that puts another question out there…what IS the right way to write a book? Or is there even a right and  wrong way? I mean, what’s right for one author may not be a suitable fit for another. Have I confused you yet?

I have my own way of writing books. Another author has their way…etc. I don’t think you will find two people who write books the same exact way. There are going to be differences. It just makes sense as no two people are exactly alike. But does that make one person wrong and the other right? No, of course not. They do what works for them, just as I do.

Now I understand that there are certain rules for grammar, spelling, sentence structure and so forth. That to me is totally different from writing a story. A story is made up of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. There must be some structure guidelines for doing that or it would just be chaos and make no sense whatsoever. I get that part.

It’s the story itself that I’m talking about. The story as a whole. I know that a story should have a beginning, middle and an end. A book should have an interesting beginning, a middle that has some kind of conflict, an end that resolves that conflict to the readers satisfaction. I get that, as I was a reader long before I was a writer.

I have read numerous articles on how to write books that drum that into you. Ok, I get it. They also stress on HOW to do it. You should do A, B, C….the problem is I don’t always do it that way. Sometimes I do C, B, A instead. But, it works for me. These articles made me doubt that I should even be trying to write and that’s sad. There are so many good writers out there that truly have talent and read these ‘rules’ and get scared off. I’ve always been a rule breaker. I like to break rules. It makes life interesting. Some people give up before they even try because the rules scare them so much.

Why are there so many rules for writing!? Who makes up these rules? Where did they first show up? And why do some people think they are set in stone and find fault in others that don’t follow the rules?

My friend Maddie Cochere, after I wrote her and told her I was scared to write anymore because of all these rules I was reading about, told me to stop reading the articles! She was quite firm in that directive too. She was also right. So I stopped. She encouraged me to just keep writing. So I did. I finished two books and have a third in the works. Maddie is one smart woman. I stopped reading those articles and never read another one.

So, maybe I do have one piece of advice for anyone who wants to write a book….

Just sit your butt down and do it! 

And don’t read about all the rules….

 

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PS. Just a reminder that The Canine Caper is for sale on Amazon and A Case of Deceit is available for pre-order.

 

Posted in Mi Vida Loca, nonfiction, postaday, writing

Writing Advice From A Novice Writer

Writing advice…it’s everywhere!

Buyer or, in this case, reader beware. Writing advice is like assholes people, everyone has one and sometimes it’s full of bull****.  That’s what I found out.

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As most of you know, I’ve been writing a story on this blog for the last couple of months, (I’m turning that story into a book).  Just finished it last week. It was wonderful having you all come along for the ride!

I’ll let you in on a secret though. I almost didn’t finish it. If you were reading along as I posted you would have noticed me getting slower and slower with my story posts. That’s because I made the fatal mistake of reading articles and posts on writing. How to do it, what not to do, the mistakes amateur writers make. So forth and so on…..

Reading all those advice postings made me stop writing! Seriously, it did. They scared the crap out of me! So I’m writing a post of my own as a warning to all you writers out there.

DON’T READ POSTS OR ARTICLES ON HOW TO WRITE!

Just don’t do it if you are writing a book. They will fill you full of doubts and stop you in your tracks.

Why? Because they are so contradictory!  One article will say do this in your writing….then the  next one will say DON’T do that!

I read one post the other day on what beginning writers should do. They said we should always write an outline of our story. ALWAYS. A full and detailed outline of our story. Um, no. I can’t and won’t do that. That’s what writing the story is for! I tried it once. Once. Never again. I wrote that detailed outline and couldn’t write the book. Why? I already wrote it! Why write it twice?

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Now I know some will say I wouldn’t have written it twice. The outline is the guidelines of your story. The more of a guideline, the easier to write the book! Now, it might work for some people, but not for me. Because I lose interest after writing the outline. I feel like I’ve already written the first draft, kind of. One with lots of space to fill in. Why not just write the damn book?

Besides, my characters high jack my story to write their own. I’m just the tool they use to write it down. I’m just the pen. They are the writers.

So that’s what I do. Now, I admit I do write a rough outline. Very rough. So rough that most people wouldn’t even call it an outline. That’s ok. I understand it and that’s all that matters in the end.

You know the ones that scared me the most? The ones full of ‘rules’. Who makes up these rules? Writers do! Yes, other writers make rules for writers.

I understand having to use good grammar, good punctuation. That just makes sense. Who wants to read a book full of mistakes? Not me! Then I read rules that say something like this:

never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.

 

Well, I know I broke that one. A lot. And I will keep breaking that one.

Oh, also I’m not supposed to use exclamation points. Yeah, well stuff it! I’ll use it if I want to!

Now not all advice is bad advice. I’m not saying ignore it all, just ignore the ones that don’t work for you. The best piece of advice I saw is attributed to Margaret Atwood;

Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.

 

Now that makes sense to me. All readers are different. They will take different things away from a story. They won’t all like the same things, but they also won’t all dislike the same things.

So my piece of advice is just write what pleases you. Or just write. Ignore all the advice out there. Writers don’t all write the same, thank goodness. Wouldn’t it be boring if they did?

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I sent an email to a very special friend of mine. I told her, I’m scared to write anymore, I’m doing it all wrong according to writing rules I’ve read. People will hate my writing! Why am I even trying? You know what she said? QUIT READING WRITING POSTS! Just stop it!

She was right too. I stopped reading writing advice articles and just got back into writing my story. I found my joy again in the story and my characters.

My advice to you? You want to write, just write. Sit your butt down and write that story, that book, that poem, whatever it is you want to write. Don’t let anyone take that joy away from you!

JUST WRITE!