Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nine and a Half Thoughts

I've been serious about writing for a few years now, and I've come to a few conclusions. Here's a list of some of the things I've learned on this journey:
1) Complacently allowing yourself to not write may be more dangerous to your dreams than all the publishing industry's pitfalls.

2) Keep your hero worship on a leash. No one has all the answers. An expert, at best, only has the correct answers for themselves. You follow their teachings not to find out what works, but to to discover whether it will work for you. There's no guarantee it will.

3) Despite that, you always benefit from trying to learn something new; no exceptions.

4) The things you think are truisms about your writing style usually aren't. Often, you haven't tested yourself to see whether that 'truism' is true--you're just mentally defending your status quo.

5) All kinds of things work. The writing 'rules' exist to train us out of bad habits. Once you've learned to write according to the rules, you'll have the wisdom to know when it's alright to break them.

6) You always feel least talented and least happy right after taking a step forward in your craft. You only see what's wrong when you're capable of seeing what's wrong. Therefore, never give up: the pain only means you've graduated to the next level of understanding.

7) No amount of hype will turn a mediocre book into a bestseller. Don't go crazy over the wrong things; focus on your writing.

8) Your mental space is your work space. When your mental space is cluttered with anger and angst, you often can't function as a writer. Keep your desk clear. Walk away from those juicy internet fights.

9) You're only competing with yourself. Everyone else is running in a completely separate race.

9b) So don't trip anyone. Just cheer.

Author website: J. J. DeBenedictis

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