Take for instance the late great Elmore Leonard’s basic premise:
“A writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind it out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then you don’t really want to write.”
And here are a few more from so many sources they’ve become a constant echo:
“Keep it up till you’ve finally developed a distinctive voice you can call your own. And for heaven sake, avoid stereotypes and shopworn formulas.”
“Don’t tell anyone what you’re up to. Once you let on, your muse will desert you. It’s over, you’ve flittered it all away into hot air.”
“Stay away from writing groups. There are three basic drives. The first is for survival. The second is sexual. The third is the overwhelming urge to rewrite someone else’s story.”
Those were some of the basics.
But just as you keep hoping the stars will once again realign, another loopy batch of advice emerges. Consider the latest from a few trending gurus I’ve taken the liberty of blending together:
Readers and writers like to have fun and bounce ideas off each other. One of the best ploys is a blog-hop, a wonderful opportunity to test and cross-promote. Try hosting a character competition. Like, say, vote on which long-suffering heroine has the most tragic break-up story. You can also bring together writers from a variety of genres riffing on a certain theme like food. Each person offers a post featuring a favorite recipe they’ve used or could use in one of their stories. Just think of all the new contacts you can make. As another great ploy, ask people to cast their favorite movie star as one of your lead characters. Or have them vote on the best plot point in some upcoming tale you have in mind. While you’re at it, promote each and all competitions on social media.
In one venture, everyone was invited to submit photo ideas for a character’s wedding gown. It was so much fun, all and sundry promised to do it again for different occasions and storylines. Yes, yes, it’s all true.
But wait, perhaps all is not lost. Here is what novelist Mark Slouka recently wrote in the Sunday Times :
“Want to lose a friend who’s a writer? Ask her to describe what she’s working on, all the while listening to the magic leaking out of the balloon. Any writing worth reading isn’t generated by sharing. Try hard as you can to resist the need for approval or companionship. Just shut up and write.”
Well there then now.