It’s Different for Every Writer

Lately, I’ve been hearing how a author must plot–which Stephen King calls a good writer’s last resort and a bad writer’s first–they must have a great story arc; they’ve got to outline everything but a short story because for a long journey you need a map (neither Stephen King nor his son Joe Hill outline: ever);or you need better than an outline; that you’ve got to read a book twice–once, for entertainment, twice, to watch the writer’s style–and that you’ve got to go through nine or ten points when revising, not just to revise one thing, but one thing at a time. I’ve read never to use adverbs, but then I read a Stephen King book where there are plenty, though of the good variety; and also never to use adjectives. Or that if a writer’s not published, he shouldn’t bother, or not bother if he never got past the fluke stage of short-story publishing. Or self-publishing only works for those authors who already have a large following. Then they’ll say you must write, write, write everyday, even on your birthday, on Christmas, and on Thanksgiving, never taking a day off. Then they say all your sentences should be short, not that way in William March’s The Bad Seed, one of my favorite novels. Some say write during the day, some the afternoon, some at night. But the books of most of these advisers suck, in my opinion. (No, I’m not saying S.K. sucks.) So should I listen?


I say it’s different for every author. Some writers are ignored unless they self-publish–and yes, some make it even without an established following (Ania Ahlborn)–some publish and make a lot of money (Neil Gaiman), and some, though great talents, write for small presses and have to keep their day jobs (John Everson). Some feel taking a day off recharges their batteries, therefore coming back to work the next day, they feel refreshed. Some authors are pantsers, and some edit as they write. Some know how to use good adverbs and adjectives. Some try never to use them, or colons or semicolons.


None of you are wrong, unless you’re not trying. Unless you’re sick of writing and want to get out: then you should.


Personally, I take Sunday off; I don’t feel I lose momentum if I don’t write everyday, even though I try to when penning a novel; I outline if it’s longer than a short story; I never plot; I don’t think about story arc; I read books once and do both at the same time; I try to always use strong verbs and cut my adverbs and adjectives, but not if they’re good ones; I never got past the fluke stage of short-story publishing, but I’m not quitting because I feel I’ve got the talent, something unteachable (three of my publications got cancelled through no fault of mine); I self-publish without a following; I take Thanksgiving and Christmas off; some days I run errands and engage in non-writing activities if they need to be done (I clean and do laundry on Monday, because Mondays suck anyway); and I try to keep my sentences short, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way; I write in the morning; I like colons and semicolons; and I’m a panster, who edits later, but rarely I’ll edit during writing, as far as spelling.


I’m not wrong, and neither are you. Keep it up.

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