by Trista DiGiuseppi
Lately I have been receiving questions such as, “What writing advice do you have?” And this has my brain running in quite a few directions. First off, I’m not sure if I’m the correct person to go to for writing advice. I do have a lot of advice regarding how to self-publish, and so on. As for actual writing – well… in my opinion the advice differs for each person asking it. This advice can be for any writer, but I want to mainly extend this to indie authors who self-publish.
1. You must have a love for words. You must have an intimate relationship with the etymology of words, language, and so forth. It’s a continual process, especially since our language never stops evolving. But my first bit of advice is to learn what words mean; definitely invest in a book on the etymology of words. Or at least, familiarize yourself with a resource that contains etymological references. Read a few books to see how words are used from author to author. Take a class on grammar and sentence structure if you struggle with that. Definitely learn the mechanics before you do anything else. It will make your endeavor much easier in the long run.
2. Break. The. Rules. If you are looking to write creatively, it takes a lot of rule-breaking. And to break those rules properly, you must learn each of them to a T. And remember – when breaking rules, be consistent. I love to break rules. (Just ask anyone from my youth.) I never want to break a rule on accident. My goal is to do it on purpose; Make it count. Give it meaning. Intent is powerful, and if you have the intent to be creative, then feed it – force it to grow so big that it spills outside of the box. Pardon my French, but you need to fuck with your readers. The moment they pick up a book – they are masochists, willing you to kick them around a little. Their brains yearn for stimulation – even if that stimulation ends up pissing them off. Go on. Hook them up and give them a zap.
3. Do not write for money. By that, I mean do not sit down and write a novel purely for the sake of gaining revenue. Readers are not stupid. They will see right through your ploy – especially when you embark on marketing your novel. And you, yourself, will miss out on the pure enjoyment of writing. Money, when juxtaposed with art/creativity, is an ugly thing. If you want money, go get a job. If you want to write for money, go find an editorial job, something more technical. Being an author is rarely a lucrative career. It is a wonderful hobby that might gain you some pocket change on the side. And, hell, if you do luck out and sell millions – that’s what we call a wonderful surprise. Your motivation for writing needs to switch gears. Do it for yourself. Do it for the sake of being creative. Do it to impress a girl – I don’t care. Just don’t do it for money.
4. Write. Forget about social networks and write. Forget about your writer’s block and write. Forget about texting and talking on your cell phone and write. Stop playing Angry Birds and write. I have a formula. I drop out of existence for a very long time, working on my writings and illustrations. I avoid Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and so forth like the plague. I just turn on my music, blast it through my house, and create. I get lost in it for days. After I am finished with my creations, then I return to the digital world where I can brag about them, getting people hyped up for the day they can get their hands on what I’ve created. This carries on for awhile, then I drop back out of existence – dead to the world. It’s a pretty functional method. Also, I advise getting out of your house if it is a place of distraction above and beyond technology. My house is my sanctuary, personally. But I realize that some people have children at home or other such distractions – find time to leave. Work it into your schedule and make it consistent. Join a writer’s group if you need a scheduled time/place to write. I am kind of artsy and loose, so I just write whenever I feel like it. I don’t try to meet word counts or anything of the sort. But that might work for you. (And remember, surround yourself with things that inspire you…)
And that is my advice for now. This list may grow in the future, when I run into more ideas on advice. I realize that some people may disagree with my advice, but these are the principals by which I live and breathe. So if you are a fan of my work, that’s how it is done on Planet Trista. (Hence: it may not work for everyone.) In conclusion, I wish you luck in your writing. I hope it turns out 100% awesome. Don’t let your material suck in any capacity. Make it hard and heavy. Make it count.