We all have received advice on writing. What to do and what not to do. This guidance has come from writers and non-writers alike. There are countless books on how to write, how to write faster, how to write better, how to write more, and each contains (hopefully) some good, useful information.
But what’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten as a writer?
At some point, maybe during a writing conference, or with your local writing group, perhaps from a blog post or a book, something, some little nugget happens to stick with you. The kind of advice you’ve written and stuck up by your computer or on your bathroom mirror where you’ll see it every day. It’s the advice you’re quick to offer to anyone who introduces themselves as a writer.
For me, it came in the late 1980s at a conference in Hartford, Connecticut. I can’t recall which conference, or exactly who the instructor was, but he was a former writer for the TV show MASH and had some movie credentials as well. As he wrapped up his presentation, he said there are two rules to writing:
1) Someone, somewhere has the same idea as you for a book.
2) So, write your book now and do it better.
Now, I’ll admit I don’t have this pinned beside my computer, but it has stuck with me all these years. In my mind, I translate it to the phrase, “If not now, when…?”
I’ve thought of this advice often as I write, or more so when I have an idea and I’m confronted by writer’s block or an over active mind which prevents me from getting some thoughts down on paper or on the screen. I also am a firm believer of this advice, because it happened to me about ten years ago.
An old diary was housed at the local historical society, written by a man in the late 1890s early 1900s, and he was quite crass and abrasive in his descriptions of the townsfolk at that time. Let’s just say he had a colorful way of jotting down what was happening in town.
I began to think an article on this gentleman and his writing would make a great article for the local paper. As I’m thinking this and brainstorming to myself, my phone rings and it’s a good friend who happens to be a writer. He knew I had connections with the historical society as I was serving on the board of directors. He inquired about the diary and shared with me he was doing a bit of research on it for an article for the local paper.
So, I gave him all the information I had, and never did write my article. He wrote his commentary and got it published in the paper.
So, what is the best writing advice you have ever received? Please share it in the comments below!