One of the most enjoyable things about writing, for me, is the Reading, Learning, and Digesting of Writing Advice. It’s true. I’m an addict for Writing Advice. I am a geek in wanting to know how it’s done, how do writers take NOUN to VERB and create STORY, or ARTICLE, or POEM? To me, it’s all quite fascinating.
And a bit debilitating.
There’s a danger inherent in reading too much writing advice, that of obfuscation. There’s a lot of it out there and, like a buffet, it’s easy to become overfed to the point of inactivity. After all, where do you reconcile as to who to listen to. Do you go for Vonnegut’s 8 Rules of Writing? Or Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments? And let’s not forget that what works for Tom Wolfe, Philip K. Dick or Harry Harrison may not work for any other Tom, Dick, or Harry. It’s quite easy to read every single bit of advice and become baffled. Indeed, deciphering hieroglyphics while blindfolded seems a simpler task than making WORD MAGIC.
There is just one author that I consider to offer the best advice. That man is Neil Gaiman. What Gaiman does is strip away the facades and the rules and the bluster and condenses all advice into one word:
Presto! To be a writer is to write, to take an active part in creation. You can’t do that by reading what Author Q or Blogger M says writing should be. In truth, there is no right way to the write way. You discover it for yourself. Write, write, and then write some more. Read other authors’ works, not their advice, to see how it’s done. Read, yes, but write, write, write. Because, and we’ll use Gaiman’s words here…
The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. (source)
As Tommy Cooper said, “Just like that!”