Every morning I get up and I search the twitter hashtag #writing to see if I can find articles by writers with some great advice. I do it as much to network as to find advice because I’m not really looking for advice. I’ve spent more than 20 years writing and the advice articles may or may not have helped me. I no longer know. I do know what does help me: Editing and editors, crits and feedback. I do think most of us are sick of writing advice. So why do writers constantly write about it? I’ve come up with a few theories:
1. They hate to read (ie they are lazy). How-to-write columns/blogs are purposefully short, to the point, and they make the reader feel as if they have either learned something they didn’t already know, or have improved knowledge on a skill they already had.
2. Because you should. Remember when Sarah Palin was asked by the perky Katie Couric what magazines she read daily? She was lampooned by the press for not answering ‘correctly’ (ie: Newsweek, Hollywood Reporter, New Yorker, etc, but NOT Good Housekeeping) The problem with this question is the unwillingness to admit no one reads magazines. They read an article (as in a single article in a single magazine). Add to that fact that you know you are going to hear about any really good magazine articles on the Sunday news shows or be linked to it on twitter or a blog and don’t even need to read it at the actual magazine site. But writers know that other budding young writers will eventually ask them that question: What magazines/books/articles should I read. And they also know that if they don’t answer ‘correctly’ (ie: Writers Digest, Stephen King’s homesite, All the Write Places Blog, etc. but NOT Cracked.com), they will be lampooned by the nubies. And who can bear being laughed at by someone who hasn’t even written their first writing blog? I guess you can sum this one up to Ego.
3. In the words of Van Halen: Everybody wants some, I want some to-oh! Well, minus the ‘oh!’ it still works. Writers want to be considered sagely. Some will tell you that they just write because they have to, write for themselves, or write to entertain, but they all write to be heard when they are writing a ‘how-to-write’ blog. Otherwise, why do it? This is because they want a piece of the pie. They want to get on the writers connection railroad and posting a writing advice blog is the best way to do it. They want other writers to see them, comment on their advice, and link to them. They want to be a VITAL part of the writing universe–and writing the how-to blogs are the way to do it.
I am kinda tired of advice. Maybe NANOWRIMO comes right in time for me, because I can go and look at writing instead of ‘advice.’ I love crit forums because, even if I have to wade through a ton of craptastic nubie chum, I still can find that pearl of great price that is only a few edits away from publication. I would be so much more impressed with a writers site that offered me a story instead of advice.
Taking my own advice, I offer you this short story: Don’t Call Me Dick