Q & A: What is the best single piece of advice you could give to an aspiring fiction writer?

Most writers want to write, but at the same time they’re intimidated by the process. Starting a project is so easy! Finishing is nearly impossible. To overcome this, tell everyone you know that you’re writing. Tell your neighbors. Tell your grandparents. Tell your least favorite distant cousin. You know, the one who brings the insufferably perfect Jell-o every Thanksgiving. Most writers start their work with the best of intentions, but then they either get distracted by a shiny or they’re bogged down by details. By telling everyone you’re writing something, especially if you tell them when you’ll be finished by, it gives you incentive to stay focused and to make your writing a priority.

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4 thoughts on “Q & A: What is the best single piece of advice you could give to an aspiring fiction writer?

  1. That’s probably the worst advice I’ve ever seen. 1. If you need external motivation to keep writing, then maybe you’re not cut out to be a writer. 2. You’re opening yourself up to constant surveillance, comments, and questions, putting pressure on yourself that has nothing to do with writing. 3. You’ll be basing your self-image, both as a person and a writer, on what others think rather than on what’s important to you.

    • LOL While I understand your point of view Catana, I stand by my advice. I’m a writer, I’m married to a writer. All our friends are writers. Each one of us have our own personal motivations and certainly that is important. But the thing we all have in common is that if we write for ourselves alone we never finish. It seems to be a hallmark of the creative mindset. By telling others what’s going on a writer is simply setting up the same conditions professionals are under. The motivation of a hard deadline isn’t always pleasant, but it keeps the creative mind focused and on track.

      It also motivates those who aren’t professionals to make writing a priority. Too many wonderful writers drop by the wayside because it’s not a “real” job. They write when they can, or when they feel like it.. But if someone walks in and starts talking, they stop. The kids need to go somewhere, they stop. The dog wants to play, they stop. If they set up a hard deadline they just might say “Hey, not now. I’m writing.” “Door is closed… I’m writing.” “Writing hat is on. Not now.” Conditioning the people they’re around to take their writing seriously is sometimes as important as conditioning themselves. 🙂

  2. While I don’t know if I agree that you should tell absolutely everyone, it’s been super helpful to me to have a writing accountability partner and weekly check-ins to make sure I’m writing.

    • Ok, maybe not the guy at the drive through… 😉 But that’s the point I was trying to make certainly. It’s too easy for the average writer to get lost in a sea of good intentions. With accountability, suddenly there’s a reason to make writing a priority, and then stick to the schedule.

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