The Only Writing Advice You Ever Need

Google the term ‘writing tips’ or ‘writing advice’ and you will soon find yourself drowning in things you should and should not do as a writer. Write every day. Write when you feel like it. Self-publish. Don’t self-publish. Know your audience. Write for yourself. Write what you know. Write what you like. Other writers will give you advice, and people who don’t write will give you advice. There are infinite amounts of websites and author services dedicated to giving you advice.

And of course, a lot of this advice is important and valuable. If you are new to writing, of course you should seek advice, ask for help, ask for feedback and be prepared to listen to those who have gone before you. The trouble is so much of the advice is contradictory, because what works for one writer will inevitably not work for another. The trick is forging your own, individual path through all that advice and all those tips.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Take what you need from the writing advice websites and articles, and ignore what you don’t. Because above all else, you have to remember that one size does not fit all. Some writers plan and plot to an excruciating degree before they ever start writing, and that’s okay. Some writers don’t plan or plot a thing, they just start writing and see what happens and that is also okay. Some writers get the concept first and have to create the characters to fit the idea, and some writers get the characters first and have to create the plot to fit them. Both are totally okay. Some writers write every day. Some writers only write when they feel like it. It doesn’t matter what type you are.

The only writing advice I personally think you ever really need is this.

Do what you want.

You can interpret that any way you like. Find your own path. Create your own journey. Do whatever makes you happy. Do whatever the hell you want.

Because above all else writing should make us happy and passionate. We should feel happy and excited and passionate about our writing. It should be, above all else, our happy place. The thing that makes us feel like ourselves. The thing that makes us feel free. And yes, further down the road, you might want to think about audiences, and readers, and markets and blurbs and selling…but before you ever get close to those things, you have to love what you write. You have to love to write. You have to be totally and utterly in love with the act of writing because quite simply, the act of writing is for you. It’s yours.

Its your escape. Your freedom. Your way of interpreting the world. Your way of figuring out how you feel and what you think. Your way of speaking up and being heard. Your way of leaving some kind of imprint on this world. Your way of being you. That’s how writing feels for me. And every time I try to please anyone else, it all gets messed up.

Writing is mine. And I do what I want.

I’ll leave you with this poem, one of many from Charles Bukowski that for me sums up how I feel about writing. Please note, this poem does not sum up how everyone feels about writing! Other writers may not relate to this at all, and that is okay! I just love this poem so much and I feel like Bukowski only ever did exactly what he wanted.

“So you want to be a writer


if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.

unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.

if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.

if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.

if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.

if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.

if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.

if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.

unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.

unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.”

We Write…

We write to remember

We write to forget

We write to find ourselves

We write to connect

We write to reach the truth

We write to construct lies

We write to create worlds

We write so we can hide

We write to make new friends

We write to have control

We write so we stay young

We write so we never grow old

We write to find out what we think

We write to find out how we feel

We write to discover what we believe

We write perfect moments to steal

We write to imagine the future

We write to understand the past

We write to record the now

We write so that we will last

We write to be seen

We write to be heard

We write to have a voice

We write to find the perfect word

We write to speak for the voiceless

We write to see ourselves in others

We write to express our pain

We write because we suffer

We write to be free

We write to hold on

We write to let go

We write to live on

Guest Post #9 Dreaming Of Another World

Dreaming of another world is a new feature on my blog where I welcome fellow writers or bloggers to talk about their experiences of Covid 19 and lockdown. I wondered whether other creatives felt like me – that another world was possible and could just be glimpsed once we were forced to stay still. I’ve had a great response and each week I will be publishing a post written by a guest -sharing their thoughts, feelings, hopes and fears during this strange and unsettling time. This week please welcome Suzie Ankers to The Glorious Outsiders. Suzie is a member of my writing group (Chasing Driftwood Writing Group) and is currently working on her debut novel, a thriller. The stresses and strains of lockdown prompted her to write the following poem.

My Daughter Turns Fifteen

It approached like a dark circling tornado,

Full of the threat of violent destruction and menace,

We watch the news in nervous anticipation whilst around us other deny its very existence,

We become doomsday preppers gathering our medications and food to withdraw from society,

Then we wait and life for a while, continues unabated.

Two weeks later and the landscape of the world has changed,

The once busy shopping centres lie empty as a silent killer stalks their aisles,

Our airports and ports keep inviting further unbidden guests to our homes and families,

The doors to my own business remain resolutely shut but my shame escapes,

There is a huge sorrow and fear in the air as my colleagues prepare the NHS for its onslaught,

They are being sent to war without shields and weapons,

Those low paid workers are now the new heroes of our society brought to its knees.

I watched your silent anguish as everyday you swallowed pills which you knew increased your vulnerability,

Whilst your brother and sister railed against the injustice of their false imprisonment you had no such complaints,

The creases in your forehead an indicator of your climbing anxiety,

The news spews forth the dire nature of the battle we have entered into and the fact that we are unprepared,

As we watch our prime minister, an expectant father, now fighting for his life,

I guess you wondered if this is what Corona had in store for you.

Fortunately, the storm abated,

The blue skies of summer heralded the way of greater freedoms, but we didn’t realise we were in the eye of the storm,

Still you hung back and waited until we could at last change your medication,

Fearful of the very thing that makes us human, social interaction.

Your brother left for university,

He partied his way to newfound freedoms,

I saw you watching and shaking your head and yet there was resigned joy in the fact that he had managed to get some semblance of normality,

Beneath that we held a knotting fear in our stomachs,

Would he pay for wanting to be like everyone else?

What risks would he have to navigate in his future career as a Physiotherapist?

Your sister, the most sociable of her family had missed groups,

As soon as she could she reclaimed the reigns of her social life but guided her horse skilfully around the hurdles of the new rules,

Even she was chastened by the virus for wanting normality,

Her boyfriends brother tested positive for Corona after returning from holiday and we missed out being in contact by a hair’s breadth,

I questioned my boundaries and yet I knew this is not the summer she sought,

She had plans of festivals, illicit alcohol, boys, and music. Parties on the beach.

Instead she got family time and more family time,

Yes, we tried teaching her to drive but how could we replace her peers?

Finally, you return to school and I am so proud,

You are the only child in your class to wear a mask,

I see the worry though in the dark circles around your eyes,

I hear the anger as they confirm cases at school and still walk around the corridors without masks,

I sense the rising frustration that people are not taking things as seriously as you believe they should.

I watch you attend your first interview wearing clothes that make you look like a middle-aged woman,

I realise what a warrior you have become and how you have had to wear an old head on young shoulders,

My heart swells with pride as you patiently explain yet again that you wear a mask to keep vulnerable members of society safe.

The interviewer nods yet I wonder if he really understands

I lie in bed at 3am unable to claim sleep worrying about the future,

That’s when my husband holds me and I hear his heart beating deep inside his chest,

It marks the rhythm of time passing and I think how we have made it this far without arguments and together,

He whispers to me that I am a good mama but not even I can protect my children from the air,

My heart does a somersault and my eyes search the ceiling for answers that just are not there.

Thank you so much to Suzie for sharing her words with us. Suzie’s bio is below.

Suzie joined the creative writing group a year ago. For her the act of writing is akin to the joy of reading and transports her into another world. She has three teenage children and works as a Therapist supporting children with Autism, ADHD and Sensory issues. She lives with her husband and children plus their energetic cocker spaniel named Beau. This piece was inspired by her daughters return to school post lockdown and it proved cathartic to write down all her anxieties.

Poem-The Battle

The battle started when I was ten

Though I didn’t know it then

A line was drawn upon the sand

When you slipped free and took my hand

I did not know, I did not see

You’d always be a piece of me

What were the words that set you free?

That helped shape my identity?

You’re a big girl, the biggest in class

That can’t really be all your arse

Fat cow, puppy fat, kind of chunky

Are you my best friend? Or worst enemy?

Now we hold hands forever more

Across the line of an eternal war

Dark little girl, with me endlessly

Claws in my back, I carry you with me

Image by skeeze from Pixabay