Thursday, June 21, 2012

Writing Advice (1): Even if you suck

As a young writer (young in the sense of new to this field), one of my favorite things to do is research and read writing advice from all sorts of levels of writers. I especially love reading the blogs of my favorite YA authors. You can find them here: Veronica Roth (Divergent), Kiersten White (Parnormalcy), Rachel Hawkins (Hex Hall), and Kathleen Peacock (Hemlock) -- just to list a few.

I also love reading advice from people who have not yet been published. People just like me who have discovered a love for this strange craft, are working hard at it and offering advice to other people like them.

Thus, I've decided to start a new post that I am calling, "Writing Advice from a Novice Writer." I would like to think of it as writing advice that can pertain to normal life as well.

This week's topic:


I am a perfectionist. I like to be good at things. Thus, things that I knew from the get go I was not going to be good at, I just simply did not do. I never played sports because I knew I would be bad at them. I never tried out for the school play, because I probably couldn't dance, sing or act. And I didn't go to clown school because I probably could not master that freakish, painted on grin (this one has nothing to do with fear of failure but fear itself).

See the flaw here. I never did any of these things. Things that maybe I had some small interest in merely because I thought I would be bad at them. Well...hello...of course I would be. If I never tried to begin with then I would never have even give myself the chance to be bad at them. Limiting any hope of ever getting better.

Writing is just like this. So often people think, no, no, no, I couldn't write a book. I thought this very same thing. I thought, I don't form words like this author. characters could never be that well fleshed out. But by using the word never and comparing ourselves to people who have succeeded, we commit a tragic crime. And the crime is that of never trying at all.

So step one: if it interests you, do it. Perhaps at first you won't be very good at it. Do you think Michael Phelps could break world records the first time he swam the 200m Butterfly? Of course not. He practiced. He worked hard. He trained. He got better. And then he won lots and lots of gold medals.

But here comes step two. Listen up because this is very important. Even if you practice, most of us probably will never break world records like Michael Phelps. Most of us will probably never have our own amusement park at Universal studios like J.K Rowling's, Harry Potter World. Sometimes, we just might never get that good. But even if that is the case, that does not mean we have to stop doing something. You can suck at everything you do, but as long as you love it, keep doing it. Do it for the love, not the talent. Do it because it makes you happy not because it could make you rich.

Step three: We can always get better. Sure, if you love it and are happy with your current skill level, by all means, stay there. We don't have to work at getting better. But don't expect some incredible outcome if you don't ever work on improving. Since this is about writing, take classes, read, read, read, write every day, learn from authors who did have success. Slowly but surely, you will improve.

So that is my advice for you today. Advice I've had to learn to really take to heart. Do it even if you suck. The reality though, the only people who suck at something are those who never try. 


  1. Cool idea. I've been getting into writing a bit lately too, And, I was considering giving up, but I guess having written something that fails is better than having written nothing at all.

  2. So, as a fellow amateur writer, I've developed two advise points i believe are vitally important for writing a story.

    1. Start at the begining.
    2. Begin with the end in mind.

    I see so many writers, published or not, that forget these two very important ideas!

    There's also a strategy that I read about chess which I think equally applies to writing (and so many other things in life).

    "Every [chess] move should accomplish at least two goals."

    If a scene, a character, whatever, doesn't accomplish two tasks in furthering your story (however mundane those may be), then cut them out or combine them with something else. Epic fantasy writers are esepcially bad about this.

    So, anyways, those are my two cents.


Questions? Comments? Snide remarks?