A Bit of Advice

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When it comes to writing, everyone has their two cents which they are more than happy to give you. People who haven’t written anything creative since the ninth grade when they were forced to by their World Literature teacher will be telling what you should or shouldn’t do and how you should do it.

Since I started writing about seven years ago, I’ve done plenty of research. I’ve read article after article, books, magazines, anything from Writer’s Digest to personal blogs from successful authors. I took it all in. What did I find out? Well,

1) everyone has an opinion

2) the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I believe people on the internet are actually trying to help, I really do, but let’s be honest, no matter what subject we’re talking about, there is a ton of bad advice out there.

The problem with giving advice is that people tend to think if it works for them, it will work for everyone. Unfortunately that is not the case. Even published authors sometimes get set in their own ways, not realizing there is more than one way to write a successful story.

Here’s the thing. There’s good advice out there. But just because it’s good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. So how you do know whether or not the advice is worth taking.

I say give everything a try, as long as it doesn’t blunt your creativity. Maybe it will work for you, maybe it won’t. In seven years I’ve have a lot of failed experiments which I learned from, until I found a method comfortable for me. I’m far from knowing everything there is to writing and am always seeking out advice, but I can say that I’ve learned to take everything with a grain of salt.

Sometimes people are wrong. And that’s it. But you shouldn’t blow off the advice you get because many times it will be helpful. Just don’t take it as gospel.

So what is “good advice”?

Good advice is anything that will help you grow. Sometimes it’s not meant for you, because your a unique individual with your own style, but it’s good to try out the different techniques. Good advice will tell you what you can do, how to do it, and still leave room for you to put your own spin on it. Good advice wants you to be the best you that you can be.

Bad advice will probably give you a list of things not to do, never allow you to expand, and will over complicate everything in your life. For example, I read an article that named all the ways you shouldn’t begin a story. The reason I say it was bad advice was not only because it was subjective (based on the writer’s own person preferences) but because it was so extensive that if left you with virtual only one way to begin a story- the same kind of beginning they used in their book.

Imagine that.

How do I find good advice?

Read. Read. Read.

When you’re done reading, try.

Try. Try. Try.

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Play around with the different methods and techniques. Try it out a bit here and there. But don’t let anyone take your story and turn it into their own. You’re the author. You have your style and they have theirs. And that’s good. If not the world would be boring.

Just remember when you’re given some advice to keep in mind that person is probably trying to help. Try not to get defensive or dismiss everything they say, you’ll miss a lot of good advice that way. However, don’t take everything too seriously. You’ll find what works for you. Until then, don’t be afraid to try (and fail). You’ll learn a lot from the experience and you might even have a bit of fun on the way.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own

Bruce Lee

Finding the Motivation

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Sometimes motivation finds you.

But usually not.

If you’re a writer, then I guarantee you’ve said this before.

“I just can’t find the motivation to write today.”

First off, I disagree with notion that writer’s block doesn’t exist. It does. Because writing is not a typical career as it requires a level of creativity and a mind for focus, writer’s block is simply the inability to get that flow going for a period of time.

“Well if you’re a doctor, you don’t have doctor’s block.”

Correct, because being a doctor is not the same as being a writer. It requires a different level of intelligence and thinking.

However, I don’t believe all writer’s block is real writer’s block. There’s a difference between “unable” and “not having motivation to”. Both are common struggles but there are cures for them.

First, let’s define writer’s block; it’s kind of like when someone asks you to name a song you like just off the top of your head and suddenly, you can’t remember any song to ever exist. That’s kind of what writer’s block is. You sit down at the keyboard, you do the work, but you just can’t get the creative flow going. Your mind locks up and the page remains blank.

Lack of motivation is different. This is where you just don’t “feel” like you have it in you today. Maybe you had a stressful week or a sleepless night or what have you. Point is, you begrudgingly glare at the computer and make a billion and ten excuses why you can’t write today.

Hey, it happens. Question is, how do you find motivation once you lose it.

Ultimately you know yourself the best. It helps to figure out where the block is coming from. Are you losing motivation due to stress? Maybe you’re tired. Maybe it’s self doubt. Whatever it is, once you figure out the source you’re more likely to get over it. However, if you can’t trace it, then here’s some tips that might help you get your mojo back.

Read A Book: This might give you inspiration and where inspiration is motivation generally follows

Physical Activity: Sometimes we get a little low and a light jog can help. Especially if you can do it outdoors. Plus, it might give you a sense of accomplishment which will build confidence- confidence is also a key component for motivation

Eat a Healthy Snack: Again, this might help you feel better. Being hungry can affect your moods, so something light might give you a bit of energy to get some writing done.

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Music: Have some favorites? Use them to sort of give you a “pick me up”.

Take A Nap: If you’re tired, don’t try to work your way through it. Go ahead and rest a bit, by else, you’ll spend the entire time muddling through and getting frustrated when you can’t concentrate.

Go Back Through Your Old Writing: This can help you see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve improved, once again building confidence.

Remind Yourself Of Your Goals: Get excited again. Remind yourself of what you want and make sure you’ve got a deadline. Sometimes having a accountability partner helps.

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Don’t wait for motivation to find you, it rarely does. Most people have to dig deep to get it. Motivation usually comes through necessity but since most of us aren’t career writers yet, writing is more like a dream and not something we have to do, thus we don’t feel compelled to keep at it.

Fret not. You’ve got in you, but you have to pull it out. If all else fails the best thing for you to do is to keep writing. Write something. Anything. Even if it’s a bad poem or one line of a story, just write. It will prove to yourself that you’re serious and that you’re not quitting. And that’s the important thing. To make sure you don’t give up.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them

Walt Disney