For the love of your writing and your sanity, stop taking the advice from the know-it-all’s as gospel.
Seriously, that’s the best advice I’ve ever received and I’m willing to bet, at least by the end of this post, you’ll agree it really is the best advice for all of us.
All artists, such as writers, singers, jugglers, acrobats, and even, yes, glass blowers, are different.
Some people work incredibly hard and seem to do all the right things, at least, all the right things they’ve been told worked for others, and yet, none of it seems to work for them. Their work was underappreciated before all of the brilliant tips, foolproof strategies, and ultimate keys to success they tried, and yet most of their work remains just as underappreciated as ever.
Then, of course, there are those who don’t seem to do much more than show up and yet, they’re rocking everything they do, but they’re the first to tell you how much hard work they put into it… and yes, again, if you would just work as hard… (You lazy bum.)
The implications are always the same. You’re not trying hard enough, you’re not interested enough, you’re not caring enough, and you’re not filled with enough enoughness in all ways, for Pete’s sake.
Doesn’t that just make your heart soar and make you want to keep trying? I kind of doubt it.
Highly talented and gifted people who found their calling always seem to want to make others believe they can do just as well if they would just do what they did.
But alas, unless you’re born with the right gifts, you’re not going to pilot the next space shuttle to Xanadu no matter how much you train in your backyard wearing your adult onesie and undersized bicycle helmet. No. It’s not going to happen. It’s just not. Stop it already.
Stop the madness.
No more crack of dawn writing!
Why is it that writers read all this great advice about sitting at their desk every morning before the crack of frigg’n dawn, typing out hundreds of words of turdish gibberish, so we can later polish them into international beloved bestsellers, and we believe it?
Seriously? Someone take those meds away because they’re clearly not working.
And let’s be honest, we don’t believe it… not really. We do it because we hope it will actually work because we don’t have any better alternatives. We need the secret formula dammit!
Okay, here’s a better alternative:
Get the hours of sleep you need and wake up fully rested and then find the best time to write that works for you. It can be the middle of the day or the middle of the night, but make sure it’s a time when you feel your best, energized and well nourished. And yes, maybe for some, it might be the crack of dawn, especially if they have plenty of time to sleep during the day.
The reality is that the brain does not work as well when it is fatigued. The brain functions at its peak when it is well rested and nourished. In other words, get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of water. (Sorry, not just coffee – unless you’re like me and can’t live without it. But do you really want to follow my bad example?)
Or how about this ridiculously grand piece of advice: Be concise.
Need a say more? It’s (just) bad. Is that concise enough for you? Need I explain why this is terrible advice? Probably, because we need context. If you use too few words we might not understand what you’re talking about.
(Hell, I don’t even know what I’m talking about half of the time – no matter how many words I use.)
Clichés Vs. Plagiarism
Don’t even get me started on clichés. Okay, now you done did it. Clichés are powerful tools that allow you to say something in, ahem, a concise way, which immediately brings understanding to readers. There’s nothing wrong with a good cliché once in a while, and most of the best of the best do it, and yet, most of them will advise you not to do it.
However, on the other hand, plagiarizing without permission is NEVER okay. (Just a little tip for Melania Trump.)
But hey, if you plagiarize with permission it’s actually called quoting with attribution and not plagiarizing. So don’t forget to include the attribution, because if you don’t then it can still be considered plagiarizing. (Lesson of the day for Donald Jr.)
The Very Best Advice
The best advice I can give you is to listen to the pro’s and those who have succeeded in the endeavors you’d like to succeed in, but don’t take our brilliant tips as gospel. If something isn’t a good fit for you, don’t force it. If you can barely keep your eyes open at 4am, then go back to sleep and write at a better time when you can keep your eyes open.
Learn everything you can about your craft and then use what works best for you. (Click to Tweet)
Sounds obvious, right? You might be surprised about how many of us get caught up in trying things that don’t work for us, but we don’t change or modify them because someone we admire said they work for them.
Do what works best for you.
Here’s what I would like to ask of you:
Consider an advised strategy, a key to success, or a brilliant tip, you’ve given every effort to use, but it just didn’t work for you. Share it with us in the comments and tell us what you now do, which has proven to work better. Maybe it’s something unconventional, or maybe something quite common, but it works for you.
[callout] If you like this post, you’re going to LOVE my new book coming out this fall, titled The Inspired Writer. In it, I pick a fight with the common advice we’ve been receiving about writing and how it doesn’t always help and sometimes actually can impede our progress. But I don’t leave you there. I share how, as a writer and an artist, you can become inspired to create your best work. Stay tuned![/callout]