I guess I should get this out of the way first since this is the first post in the series…What the hell is this series?
A while back, I sat in a writing class and tried to take in as much knowledge as I could. After the class, I’d pop up my phone and load up the newest episodes in writing podcasts. I’d listen to that as I drove back home, and then I’d read more on my computer once I got there.
I felt like Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in the movie Nightcrawler. Yeah. I had issues. Anyway. The point is, I went through way too much advice on writing, and read over many different techniques. And as I did, I started noticing one thing.
So much advice contradicts other advice or even itself. On top of that, every writing blog about writing… ugh… claim that their advice is so much better than others. They all pretty much say: “my path is better than others.” Hell, some of them try to sell you their path and charge you 200 bucks for some worthless class.
That’s where this series comes from. This is not really advice; it’s more of an observation of the advice while I contradict myself and give my own advice as the best advice ever…I’m a hypocrite.
Still, that little story gets me onto the first topic at hand: There is no yellow brick road.
I think when I was researching about writing, I tried really hard to find a nice, comfy, and well-paved road for me to walk on. Don’t we all want that? Simplicity? I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a formula to success? Something like, “follow these five easy steps and become a published author!”
Well, there isn’t one. All the roads. All of them. They’re all rough, worn, and tough. There’s no easy road.
I’ll break away here and admit it so I don’t have to have a beautiful transition. That was my terrible metaphor for writing advice. Not all of the advice out there is going to apply to everyone—or anyone for that matter. That is not to say there won’t be any advice that will apply. Some advice I looked at really helped. Some didn’t. Some actually was destructive and heart breaking (which I’ll get into through this little column of mine). But, thankfully, some advice lifted me up and kept me going.
I know it’s probably extremely obvious, and some people will see this point as throw away, but let me end with an example of why I say it.
One of the most annoying things I see online are comments born from “NaNoWriMo” (either for or against its existence). Some say that anyone who writes, regardless of how much they write, are writers. At the same time, some people say that you have to write every day if you want to be a writer. Well, which is it?
And that’s what I mean about roads. Over time, I’ve met people…colleagues, friends, teachers, and just plain old authors. Some took 10 years to write a book, and it sold very little. Some took three months and were able to afford a vacation because of it. Similarly, someone might take 10 years writing a book and sell billions.
That’s why I say there is not yellow brick road. Every writer must find their own path. Maybe that path will be ancient and treacherous. Maybe it’ll be brand new, and you’ll be a pioneer. Or hell. I could be wrong and that road will be easy, simple, and clean cut. Who the fuck am I anyway to tell you which road is right?
I know this post got a little long, but that’s because it’s the first post. The next ones will be a lot more easily digestible!