Random Wednesday: Favorite Writing Advice

Favorite writing advice…

At this point in the game I’ve definitely gone out seeking any writing advice I can get.

It starts out with your closest friends, “I am thinking about writing a book but my ability to spell is embarrassing. Like, my-fly-has-been-open-all-day-and-no-one-said-anything embarrassing.” Here is where you get that advice to go for it, don’t worry about your weaknesses. It’s a process. You’ll figure it out. And on some level, you do.

Then it’s time to branch out a bit. You start to visit a mix of blogs, professional sites, look up articles, subscribe to one or two. Maybe pick up a book or a few. It’s about this point I learned about writers groups and saw in more than one source that writers groups are helpful. So you join a writers group.

First meeting, you sit down, someone comments on your shirt and INSTANT FRIENDS! In addition to making friends, you are making friends who can give you more, specific writing advice. What books to read for help, how the industry works depending on your goals, options you might not have know about to try, websites to check out, publishers to avoid, and the advice here goes on and on. But that’s just the people, we also have guest speakers to cover specific topics of interest.

Then there are the writers conferences. A full day of just people telling you what to do and how to do it. ADVICE OVERLOAD!

Here is the thing: It takes all of the above to find good advice. It’s a combination of these things and your skill level to figure out what piece of advice has real value to you.

“Show, don’t tell.” – That piece of advice I ran into a million times and it probably took me a year or more to actually understand what it meant. I had to see a passage with a scene being “told” before it clicked. It’s popular advice that’s not really advice. It’s like saying “Don’t write shit.”

“Watch what tense you are writing in, you jump back and forth from past to present.” – I’m terrible at this and the first time I got this piece of advice was from a person on a forum. A complete stranger gave me this critique before my friends did, but I also want to give me friends credit. Two of them DID tell me I have a bad writing habit eventually which is exactly the kind of friends I want to have. This is the type of the feed back that will make me a better writer and that’s the best kind of advice. Most importantly, it’s advice I had to seek out, I wasn’t going to find it in a book.

“Write every day.” “Push yourself.” “Practice.” “Make goals, set challenges.” “Write now, edit later.”- Burn yourself out. Stress yourself about goals. Write crap for the sake of a word count and pull out your hair during the editing process because you’re trying to polish something that looks like the literary depiction of what your cat threw up under your bed a week ago. This advice makes writing sound easy. The story will tell itself if you just put words on a page. Well, the truth is somewhere in that mess of advice. If you want to write, you need to write. How you do it is up to you. It’s not all bad advice, it just depends how you use it and if it works for you.

I wish I could say I had a favorite or one thing I found useful, I don’t. I have note books full of notes, copies of presentations, highlighted books, bookmarked articles and websites, and simple stored to memory advice from conversations with friends. All of these things are helping me to become a better writer.

What then would be my advice to others?

Never stop looking for advice.

 

My compliments to the following advice givers and their awesome shirts:

Jessica Jarman (Side note: I’ve been made aware there was some Jessica email confusion involving coloring pages. While the guilty party won’t be mentioned, here is a special coloring page so you don’t feel left out.)

Bronwyn Green

Gwendolyn Cease

Deelylah Mullin

 

 

 

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Random Wednesday: Top 10 Lessons I learned from my Parents

Oh…this is going to be splendid.

The late 70’s was a weird time. Yes, this is how I am choosing to address why my parents are my parents and the decisions they made which leads to the lessons they shared.

The only good decision they made is me, if you want my honest opinion. Most of the decisions they made were pretty poor. Mom could have worn a bra in her wedding photos. Dad’s mustache never reached the epicness of Tom Sellecks though I give him credit for trying. Both could have curved the amount of marriages they had. But hey, it was the 70’s. Love, feathered hair, and polyester was in the air! Wise decisions, not so much.

Parent Lesson #1: Don’t listen to mom.
Mom quote, “Only single woman go to college. Girls like you, who have a boyfriend, don’t. Let him go to college and support you because I’m sure before too long you’ll be married. Then shortly after I’m sure there will be kids. Maybe some community college in the mean time. But I don’t understand why you need to go to college. You already have everything you need.”

Yeah, just don’t listen to mom. But the above quote is one of my all time favorites. One of the many times I asked, “Do you listen to yourself when you talk?” We realized neither of us do.

Parent Lesson #2: The only good cat is a dead cat. 
Dad said that one. A little dry piece of advice, I’ll admit, but cat’s are great when they aren’t yours.

Sorry Potter if you are reading this. You’re a cat, so you probably aren’t. But I’m sorry none the less.

Cats pee. They always pee. If you own a cat, you will find cat pee some place it doesn’t belong. No one will tell you this. No one wants to admit they have a cat pee issue. No one wants to be a cat pee person. But while dogs will change their behavior or have noticeable physical changes when there is an emotional or physical issue – cats don’t.

They communicate by pee.

Unless they are hungry. Then they will meow in random intervals to drive you crazy much like water torture.

Most of the time they just pee on something and it’s up to you to find it and then connect the dots that something is wrong. It could be an infection, could be a serious illness, it could be because they don’t like the brand of litter you bought three months ago that has since been long gone. Whatever the reason. Cats are assholes. Cute, cuddly, pee monsters.

Parent Lesson #3: It keep rabbits from eating plants, cut chicken wire and place it around the plant.
While I appreciate this piece of advice from my dad, I have just decided not to plant any flowers. If it comes to the point of chicken wire, just let the rabbits win and then don’t plant more. Rabbits: 1, Jessica 0.

Parent Lesson #4: Know the difference between a clove of garlic and a bulb of garlic.
Worst lasagna ever.

Parent Lesson #5: It’s okay to stretch the truth in a professional matter.
Like how my title says there are 10 things but really there are only 5. But you know what, I’m still going to give myself a little credit here because I made half a post which is saying a lot since I didn’t post in all of April.

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Here are the other bloggers! I bet most of them have at least 10 items on their list. They are slightly more reliable.

Jessica Jarman

Kellie St. James

Bronwyn Green

Paige Prince

Deelylah Mullin