Sunday, April 13, 2014

Between the Bindings with Forrest Aguirre

Have you had a conversation with Forrest?  If you have not, go to Goodreads, look him up, friend him and begin one.  He is, by far, one of the most interesting people I have ever spoken to.  Intelligent, witty, hilarious ... I feel like I'm writing a profile for a dating site haha.  And he's an author, too.  With some great advice. 

Hey, you're reading writing advice.  Stop it!  Go write something.  NOW!

Okay, feel better?  What?  You're still here?  I said go write, now GO WRITE!  No, I didn't say think or research or connect on social media, WRITE!  Write 300 words.  I don't care if it's crap, just DO IT, then come back and we can talk ...

Did you get your 300 words down?  Maybe 250 words?  Good, that's a start.  1,000 you say?  Fantastic!  You see, once you started, you couldn't stop yourself.  Once you were determined to stop reading about writing and actually DO the writing, you got somewhere.  Maybe it's crap, maybe it's genius.  But regardless of it's quality, don't stop.  Go back and finish what you've started.  I don't care about the next "shiny thing."  The idea you have for that other novel?  Fine, write down a paragraph, then set it aside and get back to your writing!  Social connections?  You'll get farther ahead in your marketing if you actually have content to sell.  You can't sell social connections.  You can sell your writing.  And if money isn't the object, think of this: Every minute someone is reading your clever tweet or post is a minute that they're not reading your writing.  And every minute you spend on social media is a minute that you're not writing.  Now, let me know when you're finished with your first draft.

Done?  Great.  Now is the part where you can go seeking writing advice.  Oh, and all the writing advice you've read up to this point - how much of it did you really use?  Surely not 100%.  If you have taken 100% of the writing advice you've read, I advise you to send me $100 right away.  No, you don't get anything in return.  But I get the $100.  Thanks.  That'll supply me with a lot of dark chocolate and tea for the time I'm spending writing while you're off reading about writing.  Do you know if you're getting your money's worth?  You should ask yourself, "If I paid $100 for writing advice, how much of it was worth the money?"  80%?  Hardly!  50%?  Doubtful.  20%?  That's probably more like it.  And if time is money and you spent $80 on nothing (given a 20% return on your $100), well, that can get pretty expensive really fast.

"But there's all kinds of free writing advice out there," you say.  And you're right!  Please remember, though, that time is money.  "Free" has a cost, and it might cost you your writing time.  "But I'll write crap," you say.  And you are right there, also!  Alas, all writers write crap.  Every single stinking one of them write heaping piles of dung, myself included.  The key is to work through the crap and get to the good stuff or to finish your rougher pieces into gems.  But this can ONLY happen after you have written and written and written until you feel like you physically cannot write another line.

In my time as a writer, I've found a grand total of three books that were worth my time.  Even then, I likely use under 50% of the advice from them.  So my advice on writing advice?  Reject it.  Don't read it.  And if you must, only read it after you've completed your story or novel.  And when you read it, reject it.  Argue with the author every step of the way.  Look for inconsistencies in their writing advice, find where they contradict themselves, and even if they don't contradict themselves, you must do the contradicting!  Destroy that writing advice!  Slay it!  Kill it with fire!  Reject the very advice I am giving you at the moment!  Tear it apart!

Then write some more.  And after you have completed your second project, think back to the writing advice that was given, the advice that you stomped under your conquering feet.

Did it do any good?  Was the author right about writing?  How much?  What percentage?  Did you see a real return on your investment of time (and possibly money)?  Or did you waste your time reading when you could have been writing?

The answers might surprise you.  And they will change you as you complete more and more projects and your drive to write overpowers your drive to take advice, to socially network, to go to bed at night, to be found anywhere without a pen and small notebook in hand.

Now, do yourself a favor.  Go read something you really want to read!  Give that brain and writing hand a rest.  A bow that is never unstrung grows slack.  Relax your mind and read something you've been dying to read, not a book on writing advice that you feel obligated to read.  If you want to take it a step further, if you have read extensively in the genre you're currently writing, give it a break.  Read something different.  I never read science fiction when I'm writing science fiction.  I never read fantasy when I'm writing fantasy.  I don't want to corrupt my own writing with ideas that I've subconsciously stolen from another author in that theme, nor do I want to rehash old genre conventions that have been done a hundred times.  While writing Heraclix & Pomp, my historical fantasy novel, I read a mystery, a couple of science fiction books, quite a few graphic novels, and a pile of non-fiction on a wide variety of topics.  But I steered clear of fantasy.  Now that I'm back on to writing my science fiction novel, Solistalgia, I can read a bunch of that fantasy that's been staring at me from the reading pile.  And I'm going to read a western or two, for the first time ever.  Just for the heck of it.

You should feel a lot more relaxed now, having read for the sake of reading.

Break time's over!

Get back to writing!  Pen to paper!  Fingers to keyboard!

Let's go!!

As usual, Forrest, you had me in hysterics.  I just love the way you express yourself.  You do realize, though, that you told them to stop reading my blog post, don't you? haha.  Great advice!!  Thanks for swinging by. :)

Until next time y'all!!....

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