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February 20, 2015

The Worst and Most Harmful Writing Advice

Last week, a friend shared this quote from Anne Rice to an online writing group I belong to:


When I first read this, my brain didn't seem to want to absorb it. The longer I thought about it, the more often I came back to the image and read the quote again, and the more it felt like a huge dustcover was being tugged off of the creative part of my mind.

Seriously, I've been hearing this advice for my entire life. That's nearly forty years of mental conditioning telling me How Things Are Supposed to Be.

The guilt I've felt the past few years about writing to explore instead of writing what I already knew, the way the nagging voice in my head told me I was a hack because I sometimes felt like a sentence came out the right way on the page the first time,  and the burden I've carried mentally on the days where maybe I only wrote a couple of Facebook updates or notes to myself about housework or bills were enough to make me consider quitting time and time again.

But you know what? I didn't.

On those days I didn't write, I was thinking about the story. Sometimes I was getting to know the characters in my head. Other times I was test-driving the key points in the plot. Yet, according to the dusty and antiquated advice still perpetuated by the old school, I wasn't a "real writer" on those days.

To that I say BULLSHIT.

I hope that all of you who have berated yourselves and felt that same shame or guilt inflicted on us because of our nonconformity will say it with me. Come on, one more time...

BULLSHIT.

So, as Anne Rice so plainly put it:

Let's shrug off these cliches. 
Let's define ourselves. 
Let's do it our way. 
Let's make ourselves the writers of our dreams.



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