Well, everyone, it’s me! I’m back! Where did I go, you ask? That’s classified.
Anyway, there’s a lot of writing advice floating around out there in the sultry air, and some of it is actually rather helpful. Guess what? I don’t care! I destroy advice like some kind of demented cadre of apocalyptic horsemen on acid, their plagues missing every possible mark and bringing about nothing but a whole lot of confused theologians.
Which is to say — I suck at following foundational writing advice. It’s not for lack of dedication, either. Do you know how many blogs, newsletters, and tags I’m subscribed to? Do you know how many tweets I twoot? As the (not) late, great Drake said, “it’s a lot.”
But as I’ve embraced one detour after another whilst going along my merry way, I’ve found some great pieces of anti-advice. That’s like regular advice, but with its own gravitational core and deviant laws of physics.
So, here’s what I’ve learned while incinerating common writing advice! (Reader Discretion is Advised).
Only Work On One Project At A Time
HA! One project at a time, they say. That’s quitter talk! Guess how many projects I have open on my screen right at this very moment. Go on, guess. It’s five. I’m working on five projects at once.
“What could she be thinking? How could she do such a thing? Also, does she have like, ten hands or something?”
The answer to all of these questions is no. Regardless, working on multiple projects keeps me young and spry. At twenty-four, I’m no spring chicken, after all. The Red Pill dudes told me I’m about to hit some sort of wall, full force, which means I have to get as many books out as possible before it’s too late.
Also, I’m writing a 7 book series, and, honestly? I get bored if I stay in the same book for more than 20 minutes at a time. It’s the ADHD. It’s the brand.
And if you’re like me and you get both writer’s block and hemorrhoids if you feel bored for approximately 1/500th of a business day, writing in multiple projects can be the mental laxative you need to reach MAXIMUM. PEAK. PRODUCTIVITY™.
Ignore advice. Do crime. Open another Scrivener document. I dare you.
Know Where Your Plot Is Going Before It…Goes
I actually do try to follow this advice, but my plots usually…out-plot me. Wily creatures, they.
They’re so wily, in fact, that I have come to accept their wanderings with (relatively) good grace. The best way to outsmart these plot-mutineers is to become the vagabond rogue they’ve always wanted you to be.
Sure, I’ve got a plan, you tell your anxiety before giving your plots the ol’ wink wink nudge nudge treatment in the corner.
My suggestion is to simply blast out scenes. Lots and lots of scenes. Yes, it’s good to have the major ones summarized somewhere convenient, but let the rest of them trollop about in the mire of your creative juic- just kidding. I hate that word.
Hemmhorage scenes like a hemophiliac who overdosed on Advil (I can say that because I’m one of those genetic nightmares myself). Cast them about like stacks of singles at a horny dementia ward field trip to Golden Corral!
Basically, plan a little bit, but not a lot. Ignore both the plotters and the pantsers because God Damn it, you are a rebel.
Always Proofread Your Blogs Before Posting
All right, seriously — do all of you prolific people actually do this? I feel like it’s impractical, to be honest. Who even catches ytpos these days, anyway? Don’t you know people’s attention spans have turned them into those little monkey toys with the cymbals and the hat?
Proofreading is admirable, don’t get me wrong, and some people really do need to utilize it. This is a know-thyself area in the writing world if you ask me — but apparently, most writing experts choke on their own spit if you say that.
I’ve always been a fast writer who doesn’t make a lot of big mistakes. Most of that could probably be chalked up to practice, but a fair bit of it is plain luck. You’re going to have to use your discretion on this one.
But if you are one of the Blessed Ones, and you’re spending hours of your life proofreading casual blog posts out of the sense that it’s something big-time professional writers just have to do? Here’s your permission to stop that.
Go spend that time doing something useful, instead. And if Suzy Sunshine blasts your work because of a misplaced comma or one misspelled word? Tell her to go shove it up her-
Never Combine Tropes
Call me Dr. Frankenstein, because I love throwing genre tropes together and turning them into glorious, ambling beasts with no souls or mercy. And wouldn’t you know it? My readers love that sh**.
There seems to be this idea that tropes need to be segregated for the wellbeing of the story, but I say screw it! These days the gates are wide open and, frankly, if you’re creative enough and skilled enough to pull it off, trope combining might be exactly what your books need to reach their greatest potential.
Some of my favorite Tropensteins combine the best of:
- Romance and Suspense
- Paranormal and Comedy
- Horror and Fantasy
- & so much more!
Buy now and you’ll get ten tropes for the price of three! Readers aren’t nearly so pretentious as we seem to imagine them to be, as it turns out — give them a well-executed story with the elements they love, and they’ll enjoy the hell out of that book.
And while badly combined tropes do as much damage as badly combined anything when it comes to storytelling, there’s a lot of potential for good combinations that both surprise readers and deliver the cornerstones they’ve come to expect.
Pick A Genre And Master It
Do you know what I think about picking a brand and sticking to it? Well, I’ll tell you. I think it’s boring. And stupid.
Do you know what a writer’s brand is? Them. As in, you are your brand. And if you are, in fact, a dynamic, mortal human being, you change over time. Your skills, your interests, the things that spark joy in you — all of it changes.
So, you should let it do that and explore! Want to hear some really crazy advice? You should write in multiple genres if that's what’s calling to you. God, I can hear the chorus of horror now as it emanates from book marketers and influencers across the land. Sweet, sweet music.
Look, the naysayers have a good point, overall — if you combine the wrong genres, it can be a disaster. You wouldn’t want to be known for mixing Grimdark together with a RomCom, most likely…except that actually sounds pretty incredible. I’d read the sh** out of your work if you did that.
But would you sell? Would you become anything more than a flash in the pan trend? Probably not. Limitations do exist in the writing world, contrary to what the semi-sentient motivational posters will whisper to you in the dark. The market has expectations, and it also gets confused pretty damn easily.
This doesn’t need to limit you, though. Just change your pen name, kid. It’s not that hard. Does writing in multiple genres require a bit more balancing when it comes to things like platforms and marketing campaigns? Sure. I think it’s a small price to pay for remaining truly passionate about your work.
Hey, I want to tell you a secret. Writing is supposed to be fun. Those angsty quotes about bleeding onto pages in a whiskey-induced stupor are just the emo/edgelord youtube videos of the past. Being creative is about dancing and jumping and playing with your art, not boxing it into a genre and calling it a day.
A lot of writers feel that they can’t truly master their craft unless they stick to one particular genre or, dare I say it, niche. I think this is yet another form of anxiety in disguise, and it limits your potential. From where I’m standing (sitting), the opposite tends to be true.
Mix it up, kid — no one gets to tell you what you love to write.
The next time you see some well-respected writing advice, I hope you tip your hat to it. I personally believe that the oldies-but-goodies work well for a lot of people — a lot of amazing, absolutely wonderful writers have built careers using it.
I’m not one of them. What can I say? I’m not a consistent person. Never have been, probably never will be. And a lot of you probably suspect that you’re the same way. That’s okay. Go with it! No one actually has a roadmap guiding them through this crazy career, and the people who make it big are usually either lucky, insane, or a bit of both.
If you don’t feel like the classic advice is working for you, f*** it. Try something else. Try everything else. Become the hell beast that consumes all limitations in its quest for glory — come up with your own writing anti-advice, and let it take you to a glorious new place.
Also, please write that GrimDark RomCom. Someone? Anyone? Please?