Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Advice vs. Advice vs. Advice

We are bombarded by advice for every aspect of our lives. Advice for raising children, or cooking chicken or curing ingrown toenails. Seriously, there is so many well-written sagely memes, what can one person do? How to shift through all the words?

I haven't even touched on the words given for better writing or editing. Every writer's conference I go to, I come back with pages of amazing notes that appealed to me. A week or so later I go through my notebooks and write a few blog posts to help me remember what I needed to learn. I shift through the words and pick the ones that still stand out to me. I think that is how we can shift through advice: pick and choose.

Last week I opened that spoke of losing a loved one. I loved that author of the email honored her friend by sending the friend's best writing habits out into the writing world. For me, there are a few good reminders, new ideas and aha moments. I hope you enjoy them!

From Beth @ Writers etc

So today, in honor of Billie, I'm going to indulge my melancholy
and share the top dozen writing habits I learned from Billie.

1. Write early. She often told me she awoke at 3am. Since she
couldn't sleep, she'd write. While I'm never awake at that hour, I
tend to make writing my first priority when I awaken.

2. Write often. Billie always had a pen and pad nearby to jot down
ideas. I never felt the need to do this, but since cancer invaded
my life, I've found my memory isn't quite what it used to be. I
carry that pad of paper now.

3. Experiment. My goodness, that woman was fearless when it came to
trying new markets. She wrote whatever struck her fancy, sometimes
using a pen name when she experimented with subjects that
conflicted with her primary focus.

4. Be fearless. Don't be afraid to try new writing techniques. Play
with new subject matter. Approach the familiar from a new angle.
Dance with new ideas and splash them on the paper.

5. Be easy to work with. Billie understood the economics of
publishing. She submitted polished manuscripts, allowed our editors
and designers to do their work minus any drama, and didn't second
guess every step of the process. I loved working with her... and
her projects largely met with success.

6. Support local literacy programs. Billie often donated her
royalties to the local library. I always thought that was

7. Embrace new technology. Billie was one of the first people I
knew who created book trailers for her Youtube channel. They're
awesome. They may not have had a gazillion views, they certainly
helped sell her books.

8. Embrace reality, but treasure fantasy. Billie knew she was
dying, yet she never mentioned it. When we spoke, we always talked
writing, plans, the future. Living in reality created her life. The
fantasies she explored gave meaning to that life. That's awesome.

9. She nurtured young talent. Waaaay back when my son was in Junior
High School, he created a silly little blog about his dog's "wacky
adventures." Of course, Billie found it and was his first
commenter, encouraging him to keep writing. That's how we met.

10. Work with various publishers. Billie had books with ebook
publishers, she published some herself, and she had traditional
book publishing contracts. I think she was wise to keep her work

11. Learn to market. I was delighted when I was asked to critique
sales letters for a firm helping writers learn copywriting. I was
even more delighted when one of the first letters I got to critique
was written by Billie. She was always learning new writing
techniques. She wasn't afraid to stretch her wings and master some
persuasion methods as well. I admired that.

12. Lastly, Billie taught me the importance of sitting still.
Writing is a solitary profession, and that's exactly as it should
be. We're not flashy. We the quiet back ground noise that nobody
notices, until we're gone. We're the documenters of our age. We're
the quiet social commentary whispering, "Why?" "What if?" "Are you
sure?" We probably spend too much time wandering our own heads, but
that's who we are.

Ah, a life well lived is certainly something worth celebrating, eh?

My hope for you is that as you ponder Billie's life, realizing what
you just read was written by someone whose life could very likely
be cut short due to cancer (mets are fairly common), that you take
your own writing seriously. Please write today. Please write

We live in an age when we need thoughtful communicators more than
ever before. After all, writing isn't a profession. It's who we
are. And no matter how hard you try to "fit in" with polite
society, the fact that you are a writer will never change.

Onward and upward,


 Enjoy a little sunshine today :)


Neurotic Workaholic said...

I like these writing habits, especially the one about embracing reality and treasuring fantasy. And I like what you said about how we wander around in our heads; that's definitely true for me, because I'm always analyzing something. And I do carry pen and paper with me; I carry my journal with me, because sometimes I'll see/heard/experience something interesting, and I write it down so that I won't forget it. And sometimes I'll go back through my journal and find a line or a paragraph that I especially like, which I can use in one of my stories.

Taffy said...

I decided to try a journal app on my phone to write little things that tease my writerly brain. So far, it's been fun.