Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Poor Advice

I've been talking about writing here, and at other places, and thinking about it a lot recently. I've also been trying out various writing podcasts and I just re-read Stephen King's On Writing. There's a lot of good advice out there. On Writing is full of it. Among the other advice in the book, one thing that sticks out is the question of whether you're writing for money or writing to write. King says he writes to write, and that the money is an added bonus. I appreciate and respect that. While I would love for someone to pay me for my writing, I'm not doing it just for the payoff. There's plenty of stuff I've written that will never see any kind of publishing, aside from possibly throwing something up here, and that's ok.

Today I've been listening to old episodes from Michael A. Stackpole's podcast for writers. The episode that I just started listening to is prefaced by Stackpole's introduction and credentials, in which he says he's published 38 books and has had 8 on the New York Times Bestseller List. I've never read Stackpole's work to the best of my recolection. From what I've heard on the podcast, Stackpole seems to be writing just for the money, and his podcast really rubs me the wrong way. Some of his advice is ok, but a lot of it seems to be pretty ridgid and in the manner of "this worked for me so you should do it too." Some of it sounds kind of discouraging too, for instance in the last one I listened to he was talking about NaNoWriMo and how 50,000 words is good, but most publishers wont want to look at the manuscript unless it's 80-100,000 words long. I have around 14 more podcasts that I've downloaded but I'm not sure if I'll be listening to those or just dumping them.

I don't know that I really had a point here, I've just seen a lot of writing advice lately and while some is good, there's a lot of BS out there. Personally, my favorite is to just do what works for you when it comes to writing.


Anonymous said...

I really liked the paperback series on "Elements of Fiction Writing" as well as Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Yes, Card is a goober, but the book is pretty helpful on many fronts.)

You are right in the take-it or leave-it approach - as well as your decision to just write. Still, I try to occasionally pick up one of the mechanics of writing books from time to time, and I find that I internalize some of the stuff and it helps me just write. (Like the mechanics of viewpoint - or dialog)

mattw said...

I have a couple other writing books at home that I've delved into from time to time. Maybe I should pick one up again before November.

vince said...

I would think NaNoWriMo would help get you in the habit of writing, because if you want to write, the first thing you have to do is actually put words somewhere, whether on paper or in the computer.

I think it's important to know the rules about writing if you want to get published. But if that's the only reason you write, then you just have another sucky job.

In my opinion.