When it comes to writing, I am absolutely stuffed to the brim with good advice. The best way to start, the worst way to finish, how to get over a slump in the middle, how to get your characters to talk to you, etc. . I am often so full of good advice that I will happily tell anyone who might listen my thoughts on why maybe everything is working. Or not working. I’m not what I call opinionated but I’ve got my ways.
Now…if only I ever took my own advice.
It isn’t that I’m not confident in my advice. It is just that I am a notoriously bad student. Which is amusing considering my grades in school were always at least decent. (minus math. We don’t like math)
It always boils down to one very true point: I don’t like listening to me. I don’t trust me.
So that being said, if I don’t trust me, then why should any one else? Gosh, I have no idea. As confident as I am that I can help other people with writing, there is that niggle of doubt. That niggle that grumbles I am of course full of crap and people are in for a world of trouble if they listen to me.
Have you ever had that? That slice of something you know inside and out and yet you still can’t convince yourself to take that advice? Because I know I have it. I’ve seen other people have it too. The people who tell you how to raise your kids, pets, flowers, whatever, but then turn around and do the opposite.
The old adage of ‘do as I say not as I do’ is very true in today’s world. I don’t try to give advice much anymore. I used to, back in my tumblr days when I danced on the outskirts of fandom and hobbies. I used to give advice and not worry a bit. But take some bad sauce and eventually, you won’t eat the spaghetti anymore.
Belief in yourself, especially as a writer, is very important. I try very hard to have some sense of personality and identity within my writing, not to be confused with my voice. My voice? That’s a whole other kettle of onions. But when it comes to my personality and belief in myself as a writer, those two things are coming together. It is one of those long and arduous processes that is ever ongoing.
I remember one time I was called arrogant for my belief in my writing and I let it absolutely splinter me. Isn’t arrogance a horrible thing? I thought it was. Then I did the MasterClass with Neil Gaiman when he alludes that a bit of arrogance as a necessity as a writer. You need to believe in your writing with that arrogance otherwise you will be easily derailed when it doesn’t turn out.
I’ve been derailed many a time. I self-published a book after two rejections (hi agents yes I took it hard and I was stupid to). When that book came out and it met with crickets, I took that hard too (that was also my fault because I never told anyone I published it). So I shelved all ideas of publication away.
Cue this past month when I decided, on impulse and through the advice of a good friend (the writer Amanda Johnson), to try to self publish again. Not to be so worried with the aspects of querying and such. The book is the darkest work I have ever created. It would be a hard fit at a regular publishing house. When it was met with interest, I was shocked.
Shocked? That’s putting it lightly. But it rejuvenated me a little. It focussed me a lot.
The advice I had always ignored that I always gave others was that you need to keep writing. Write what you love. Even with rejections, crickets, vitriol, the disbelief, the naysaying… you need to keep writing. I ignored that advice and my brain suffered for a while, so to speak. The muse was on a strict lockdown to only write something that could be marketable in a massive way. And that…is not me anymore. I’ve had to accept that my stories are darker, that they won’t feature the ever-popular tropes, and that oftentimes they’ll be rejected.
Sometimes you won’t be everyone’s cuppa tea and that’s okay.
In essence, I had to follow my other piece of advice: Write what you love and do it because you love it. I tried hard to fit myself into a box that I forgot what made me a decent enough writer in the first place.
So my advice, if you are like me and you ignore your own advice boils down to:
- Write what you love
- Love what you write even when it gets hard
- Keep Writing
- Listen to your own advice sometimes. You might not be as full of it as you think
I’ll say it again for the people in the back: Sometimes you won’t be everyone’s cuppa tea and that’s okay.
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