The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Received

 

“Tricia, this isn’t your season for writing.  Hopefully it will come in a few more years, likely after years of rejection letters and strife and heartbreak.  Right now, this is your season to be a mom and a wife, to give your time to them first.  The best thing you can do for your writing is to collect your ideas, write them down or file them away, and come back to them in a few years.”

 

Okay, if you say so.  But you’re kind of an angry, stifled writer.

Writing down my ideas, stowing them away, only made me crazy in the kind of way that I could bite someone.  This tip didn’t play out so well for me.  And, my goodness, am I thankful that one doesn’t have to follow all the advice of her predecessors.

The best thing I could do for my writing was to write.  Just write.

As I wrote down one observation, I found another one.  And another.  And I soon discovered that I only ran out of ideas if I stopped writing about them.  As long as I kept my fingers talking, more ideas came right down the conveyor belt. Soon, the flat surfaces of my house were covered with post-it notes, headlines captured until I could sit down and put it on paper.

Some say writer’s block is just another word for stage fright.

So, do you want to be a writer?

Here is my advice:  Write.

Aside from my journals and deepest whispers that I’ll never say out loud, I don’t write well if I don’t have an audience.  I write for someone to read.  You can start a blog for free and anonymously, and you can write every day to a virtual audience, and you’ll never see their faces to read between their lines and decide if they like what you wrote.  You can just write and believe that they love it, that they’re telling their friends about you, that more and more people will sign on every day.

And if you aspire to write anything, ever,

for publication, syndication, or fabrication,

for yourself or anyone else,

as a real writer or as one masquerading to be,

please read Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg.

 

This is the best advice I can give you.

And by all means, start today.  There’s no reason not to.

 

***

Okay.  Your kids are climbing into the cereal box.  You have $1.25 left in your checking account.  Your husband can’t find his shoes, your car won’t start, you know you have lived a life of unfulfilled dreams.  There is the threat of a nuclear holocaust, there is apartheid in South Africa, it is twenty degrees below zero outside, your nose itches, and you don’t have even three plates that match to serve dinner on.  Your feet are swollen, you need to make a dentist appointment, the dog needs to be let out, you have to defrost the chicken and make a phone call to your cousin in Boston, you’re worried about your mother’s glaucoma, you forgot to put film in the camera, Safeway has a sale on solid white tuna, you are waiting for a job offer, you just bought a computer and you have to unpack it.  You have to start eating sprouts and stop eating donuts, you lost your favorite pen, and the cat peed on your  current notebook.

Take out another notebook, pick up another pen and just write, just write, just write.  In the middle of the world, make one positive step.  In the center of chaos, make one definitive act.  Just write.  Say yes, stay alive, be awake.  Just write.  Just write.  Just write.

 

~ (as you might have guess, my new favorite girl) Natalie Goldberg

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2 thoughts on “The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Received

  1. Agreed! You might also like this…
    People are always asking me how to be a writer. I don’t know, but here’s how not to be one.
    Watch hours of mindless TV. Check your email.
    Fret over whether it’s who or whom, lie or lay, its or it’s, you and I or you and me.
    Agonize over whether to use colons or semicolons.
    Get your doctorate in creative writing first. Start therapy. Find the right writers’ group.
    Wait until you get over your fear of rejection or fear of success. Tell yourself the odds of getting published are against you. Worry about how you’ll pay the bills. Compare yourself to everyone else.
    Complain that it’s too hot, too cold, too muggy, or to nice outside to write.
    Try to write like anyone except yourself. Use only big words to impress people.
    Waste time envying other writers who have it so easy.
    Wait until you have children. Wait until your children stop teething, finish soccer season, and go off to college.
    Wait until you have two hours of uninterrupted time to write.
    Wait until your siblings move and your parents die. Wait until you meet the love of your life. Wait until the divorce is final.
    Wait until you go on vacation. Wait until vacation is over. Wait until you retire.
    Wait until you find your muse. Wait until you feel inspired.
    Wait until a doctor says you’ve got six months to live.
    Then die with the words still inside of you.
    ~Regina Brett: God Never Blinks

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