When you are an aspiring author, or more to the point, a perspiring writer, you look to the great minds who have already succeeded in this endeavor for some writing advice. At least that is what I did. Several writers websites and/or twitters offer those supportive tidbits on a regular basis. There is Jon Winonkur, for example, or Quotes for writers, or the stupendous archives of writer’s digest.
You will find advice there that will make you chuckle, advice that will get you thinking, and advice that will leave you puzzled. The only problem is, you will not be able to follow all of it. For each and every piece of specific advice you read, you will also find the exact opposite.
Writing has to be hard, no, writing needs to flow easily. Write in the morning, no, write in the evening, forget it, write whenever. Write drunk, no write sober. Read all the time, don’t read while you’re in the process of writing a book. Let your characters take over and just listen to them, no, you are the master of your universe. Read varied, no, only read the good stuff. Let your friends read your work, no, never show your work to anyone before it’s finished. Listen to your beta readers, no, ignore them. Write what you know, no, write outside your box. Stick to one genre, no, try out many genres to be versatile. Edit right away, no, edit later. Write with your audience in mind, no, write only for yourself. And so on and so forth. You name it, I’ll find you the opposite quote for it.
So what good is all this advice then when even the published authors can’t make up their collective mind? It just shows you that writing is a very subjective experience. What works for one author is pen coma inducing poison for another. This also means that you have to find the advice that works for you. This is one place where you can pick and choose and forget about the rest, without having to feel bad for it. And if all else fails, stick to the basic piece of advice that almost all authors can agree upon, which is: Just write.