Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Good advice

Writers get lots of advice. They get advice from other writers, from readers, from friends and family, from critique partners, beta readers, and sometimes from editors and agents (sent with rejection letters). We get advice from writers' magazines and blogs. We get advice from guest authors and agents at writing conferences and writers clubs. We get advice from countless books.

When I first started writing, I bought books by the score. At first they were craft books: how to write dialog,  plotting, and scene setting. Then I bought books that were focused on weaponry (in case I wrote a mystery) or the history of vehicles (what kind of carriage did an nineteenth century woman ride in?) or period fashion.

When I got nearer to my goal, I bought books that listed agents and publishers. These books also contained advice: how to write a query letter, how to write a synopsis,  how to format the manuscript.

Knowing the mechanics is good. If you can't spell and don't know when to start a new paragraph you are not going to attract anyone's attention except in a bad way. Knowing your facts is good. Readers pick up on mistakes and love to let you know about it.

I hope I have internalized all the advice I have read or heard over the years. After awhile it begins to blend together. That said, there are two pieces of advice I do try to follow.

One is to write every day. I do this, but not always on my work in progress.  I write two blogs every week. I write letters to family. I actually put them in an envelope and attach a stamp, because not everyone in my family owns or wants to own a computer. There are days when all I write is a grocery list. But I write something.

The other advice I heed is to be persistent. To keep writing even when I see no tangible results. To sit down and resume writing immediately after getting a rejection. To write when people ask when my next book will be out and I can't give them an answer because I haven't finished the current one yet and my others are either languishing on some editor's desk or have been filed away for future work and revision.

There are days when it is hard to follow either bit of wisdom. Days when my own best advice to myself is to give up and find a real job or a more fulfilling hobby.

Do other writers have days like this? And if so, how do you get over them?

Yeah, I know.

Sit down and write.



  1. Hi Sandy, good post. At the risk of boiling the ocean, I have to offer one more bit of advice. "Have fun."

    With all the overwhelming advice we get, we sometimes forget that writing is a joy.
    Happy holidays!

  2. Sandy, I had a year like this. Can't wait for 2013 to be over.

  3. I went through the same process, reading all the books there were on writing, etc. I try to write something everyday. I must admit though, I haven't lately - getting too close to Christmas and too much to do. I also recall sending samples of my writing to agents and/or publishers through regular mail - back in the dark ages! smile. That cost a lot of money in postage then. Thank Goodness we can do all that over the internet now!