I’m a fan of writer Chuck Wendig, who blogs about writing and publishing over at his site, Terrible Minds. Now, before you go over there, all eager and bright-eyed with your eyes round with the promise of new knowledge and happy unicorns and dancing elves handing out snickerdoodle cookies, be advised that those of you of the…ah…more delicate disposition will probably not like Chuck’s words of wisdom. Which are indeed wisdom-ful, and it’s too bad if your delicate disposition and case of the vapors gets in the way, because you’re missing out.
Why do I say this? Because Chuck swears. And he can be a bit raw. But he’s also irreverent while spot-on about many of the things that go on with writing and publishing. I personally do not have an issue with swearage and I indulge in it myself (horrors!). But I understand that some folks do have a hang-up about it, so just be advised that if you have that issue, Chuck’s probably not the guru for you. If you’re fine with swearage and ribald humor, then continue on.
Chuck does these wonderful 25 Things lists, about a variety of issues. This one, about 25 things to stop doing as a writer, could also be applied to other aspects of your life that don’t have anything to do with writing. Below, a couple of things for writers and a couple more for all of us:
3. Stop writing in someone else’s voice
You have a voice. It’s yours. Nobody else can claim it, and any attempts to mimic it will be fumbling and clumsy like two tweens trying to make out in a darkened broom closet. That’s on you, too — don’t try to write in somebody else’s voice. Yes, okay, maybe you do this in the beginning. But strive past it. Stretch your muscles. Find your voice. This is going to be a big theme at the start of 2012 — discover those elements that comprise your voice, that put the author in your authority. Write in a way that only you can write.
16. Stop doing one thing
Diversification is the name of survival for all creatures: genetics relies on diversification. (Says the guy with no science background and little interest in Googling that idea to see if it holds any water at all.) Things are changing big in these next few years, from the rise of e-books to the collapse of traditional markets to the the galactic threat of Mecha-Gaiman. Diversity of form, format and genre will help ensure you stay alive in the coming entirely-made-up Pubpocalypse.
And something that translates for all of us:
9. Stop treating your body like a dumpster
The mind is the writer’s best weapon. It is equal parts bullwhip, sniper rifle, and stiletto. If you treat your body like it’s the sticky concrete floor in a porno theater (that’s not a spilled milkshake) then all you’re doing is dulling your most powerful weapon. The body fuels the mind. It should be “crap out,” not “crap in.” Stop bloating your body with awfulness. Eat well. Exercise. Elsewise you’ll find your bullwhip’s tied in knots, your stiletto’s so dull it couldn’t cut through a glob of canned pumpkin, and someone left peanut-butter-and-jelly in the barrel of your sniper rifle.
10. Stop the moping and the whining
Complaining — like worry, like regret, like that little knob on the toaster that tells you it’ll make the toast darker — does nothing. (Doubly useless: complaining about complaining, which is what I’m doing here.) Blah blah blah, publishing, blah blah blah, Amazon, blah blah blah Hollywood. Stop boo-hooing. Don’t like something? Fix it or forgive it. And move on to the next thing.
Source: Chuck Wendig, 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right F***ing Now), Jan. 3, 2012.
Click that linkie right above this to check out the rest of the list, if you haven’t gone over there already.
I’ve said elsewhere that I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I try to set realistic goals for certain things I’m working on, whether it’s a writing project or something about myself that needs some work. That’s why I like lists like these. They help me focus on various aspects of my goals. So here’s hoping they can help you, too.
Happy writing, happy reading!