Nobody has written the how-to-write guide I want to see (although one friend used Ted Morgan’s Literary Outlaw as a template, with disastrous but compelling results). Life is too short for me to write my ideal writing guide, but here are the top seven tips I’d like aspiring writers to follow.
The piece was driven by an irritation with the tone taken by much writing advice. Too many recommendations suggest that they are universal, and rules like ‘show, don’t tell’ are repeated without full critical consideration. In addition, there is a warm, encouraging tone to much of the advice given, something I’ve questioned previously.
(The popularity of writing advice makes me wonder if more writers are reading discussions of how-to-write than are reading literary magazines?)
One article that inspired my tips on Great Writing was Sara Crowley’s Why you can take your “You must write every day” advice and shove it… I chose not to link to the piece as the section of my article attacking the write-every-day rule had very different aims in mind; but I recommend read Sara’s piece, which also questions the idea that writing advice is universal.
I enjoyed writing my 7 tips, and reading the responses (I’m in the middle of replying to the comments). One thing that has been interesting is that people have attacked particular points while ignoring some of the more irresponsible ones.
Following all the tips in my article would be foolish for most people but I hope the point is obvious: that for others this might be better advice than the more conservative suggestions available.