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Blogs, Stop Teaching Me How To Write!

March 12, 2010

Lately my google reader has been up to the brim with advice. And too much of it. I’ve been pulled into the craze occasionally, itching to lay down my own formula for the perfect page, etc, but it has started to annoy me how many lists there are that try to (innocuously) teach me how to write. The best part? Most of these posts end by telling me what I already know: that there are certain helpful rules you can follow, but at the end of the day it’s your voice, your idea, your style, that matters.

And it’s true. We’ve all got our own style, our own pizazz, and I’ve always been of the notion that trying to figure out the formula of the bestseller defeats the purpose of writing. It’s always annoyed me when critics rely too heavily on comparing books (oh, this is the next Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf; look at this Nabokovian thriller) partly because I think it’s an easy thing for critics to do when they have nothing substantial to say, and also because if the two works were truly so similar, they would have no merit on their own.

Besides, much of the advice I’ve been reading in posts lately (how to craft a perfect sentence, what your protagonist shouldn’t be doing, etc) seem…unaccredited? Is that fair? Here I am, an aspiring writer, reading the blogs of many an aspiring writer, and frankly most of us don’t have the credentials to post what we do. And yes, maybe that is unfair, because why do I have any right to ask you to read this post, and why should we completely ignore an unpublished writer in favor of a published one, especially when there are good, undiscovered writers, writers who maybe never caught a break, or who never wanted to publish? And yet… Most of us aren’t published because we need work, we need polishing, we need to stop surfing the web and start writing our books (just thought I’d sneak that one in there).

That’s why my goal lately has been to get off my high horse, show a little humility, learn from the best, commiserate with my peers, etc, etc, and stop trying to write anything that I don’t know about. Sure I can send you the link on how to query, but heaven forbid I tell you how to write one until my theoretical bestseller shows up on the marketplace.

Besides, you can’t teach people how to write. Can’t help them craft the perfect anything. I’ve always felt that writing is 10% nature, 10% practice, and 80% diligence, because it is HARD to actually write that sucker down. James Joyce could never have written a romance novel just as much as insert author here could never have written a horror/thriller/fantasy/YA novel. It’s all about what your goals are, what your freaking style is, so please, I love advice, I do, I read blogs because I want to learn more about the business, or I need to find a writer I can relate with, and I love that, I love hearing about your struggles to write the most fantastic dialogue, but please don’t presume to teach me how you do it.

Maybe presume is too harsh. I know it’s not on purpose, I know it’s only friendly words of wisdom. But I find lists, methods, formulas, rather tiring, even as I’m tempted to click on them. What do you think? Is writing advice shoved down your gullet like a duck turned foie gras? Or am I ungrateful, unsuited for the privilege of reading your blog?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2010 4:08 pm

    Um.. just dropped by to say thanks for saying hi at my blog party. Won’t say another word as I’m always telling writers what to do 😉

  2. March 14, 2010 8:15 pm

    Thank you for dropping by! And admittedly, we all do it, and I really can’t help but click on all those articles that have those top ten lists of how to start a novel or write a action scene, even though I sometimes dislike them…I LOVE advice, just not a dictum.

    But anyhow, happy blogging!

  3. attackoft3hrolo permalink
    April 13, 2010 1:04 am

    Wait, I thought a duck turned into foie gras was the good bit. They’re forcing you to become delicious! Doesn’t sound too bad to me.

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