Writers are in LOVE with words. We go out searching and when we find a few morsels worth savoring, we form them just so, and then we spit them out for others to digest. That doesn’t mean though, that everything we say has equal value. Nor does it mean that all well-intentioned advice has a place in your world.
If a thought does inspire, even if it does look rather nice on you, the words may fit you in a way the advice-giver never intended and that should be celebrated as a glorious turn of events.
New authors, especially, are on the lookout for the very best, most beneficial advice an experienced author has tucked beneath their keyboard. Some golden nugget that will spur them on in their journey. I do it. Constantly. With only three books on the shelf, I am still in the very early days of what I hope will be a career in writing and I am always looking for a new wind of inspiration. Words that will bring clarity to my writing.
I’ve collected thoughts in this way. They’re pins on my Pinterest board, quotes shared on Twitter. They’re purple scrawled sayings on index cards around my office. Advice is everywhere. And I thought it might be fun to take a look at the tips most often given and share my thoughts on them. Not because I know more–because I certainly don’t. And not because I’m set in my ways–because wouldn’t that be nice. But because I remember how ugly I looked when I wrapped myself in ill-fitting advice like it was a one-size-fits-all uniform and tried to pretend it worked for me.
So, over the next little bit, I’ll share some of the advice I’ve picked up and I’ll get real with you. I’ll tell you why it works for me and why it doesn’t. And while my experience with someone’s words should neither deter nor encourage you to try them, I hope it will at least free you from the idea that all writers write in the same way. We don’t. We are unique and that adds to our value, both individually and as a creative whole.
So, let’s get started. Here’s a good one.
This quote is by Nora Roberts, but variations of it have been given as advice by nearly every published author out there. That, in and of itself, tells you one thing. It’s good advice. It works. And I can find nothing of fault in it.
Except . . .
The problem I have with this advice is that it weighs very heavily on an author who finds herself in a busy season. We feel that if we can’t find the time, we must not be doing enough, being creative enough, being awake long enough to be a REAL author. It’s a struggle I know very well. My kids were on different school schedules this past year and I spent half my life driving back and forth, up and down the same roads, and sitting in overcrowded parking lots waiting for my munchkins. And while I absolutely agree that we have to MAKE time for the words, I decided a while back to MAKE kids and regardless of my passion for story, those kids have to come first. And not out of some moral obligation, but because I want them to be first. I want them to be more important than my stories.
It may not be children for you. It may be employment or another relationship. It may even be another art form that demands your time, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a REAL writer. Do real writers write? Absolutely. Do they make time? Most certainly. Will writing always be at the top of their priority list? Nope. Probably not.
And that’s okay. I say, celebrate the season of life you’re in. Really, REALLY live it. Write whenever you can and when life slows down, you’ll have all the more stories to tell. You’ll have life experience and that is something you don’t get huddled in your writing cave. So, yes, I absolutely agree with Nora Roberts and everyone else who has given this advice, but I refuse to let it weigh me into depression. When I’m busy and enabling my children to live their lives and exercise their creative souls, it’s okay to take a deep breath and tuck the words away for later.
It’s okay for me.
And it’s okay for you.