Three Pieces of Writing Advice

I'm on a roll with the blogging memes. This one comes courtesy of Claudia at On a Limb With Claudia.

According to the rules of this meme, I need to come up with three pieces of writing advice. This is very appropriate since I haven't written anything on my novel in like two weeks. Okay, three weeks.

I've been writing lots of other things but I clearly need a swift kick in the rear to get my own self back in gear as far as the novel.

My top three gems of writing advice:

1) Actually write. This is the no duh piece of advice that a million people will give you. But, it's true. No article, short story, script or novel gets written unless you sit your hot self down and actually write. I used to spend a lot of time thinking about writing. Dreaming about it. And not doing it.

It doesn't matter if you're the best writer in the world with the most genius plot to hit the planet in a thousand years, if you don't write, your ideas die with you. And you know that egotistical maniacs writers want their ideas to live on forever, right?

2) All you need is ten minutes. I stole this from the great Noel Alumit. I took a writing class with him two years ago and it was hands down the best class I've ever taken. I still have my notebook from that class and when I need some inspiration, I whip it out.

One of the things Noel said is that you can write a novel in ten minutes a day. So, 70 minutes a week is all you really need. And don't think everything you write in that ten minutes is going to be perfect, because it's not. I regularly write a lot of awful stuff. Sometimes I write, "You are the most asinine, stupid, wannabe writer on the planet!" over and over. And then ten more times for good measure.

But eventually, something good comes out of it all. And I'm not talking about a trip to therapy either.

3) Don't spend all your time reading books on how to write. I know those books look really great, and some of them do come packed with great tips. But there's always going to be a new "How to Write a Novel" book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. Trust me, I have a bunch of them here in my house and I'm not convinced they've moved me significantly closer to goal.

On the other hand, if you're worrying about whether the writers of those books are able to pay rent, feel free to keep forking over your cash.


So that's my two, I mean three cents on writing. I'm going to tag Sundry at Any Given Sundry, Shelly at Boring Black Chick, and Jen at A 2 Eat Write. I'm eager to see what you three awesome writers have to say!

Now I'm off to follow some of my own advice. Ten minutes, here I come!

Comments

Jameil said…
i'm glad you didn't say me! i don't have any desire to sit down and focus long enough to write a novel.
Very very nice! I love your advice! Especially the 10 minute thing. It's like working out too - start with 10 minutes and you may get an hour or two - who knows?

What's your novel like?
Jen said…
Wow, Liz, thanks for the tag - I'm honored! And I love your pieces of advice - I'd agree with each (although I'll come up with something original so I'm not stealing yours, lol).

It's definitely an interesting meme week!
Anonymous said…
You should consider writing for Salon or Slate as your writing style would fit in well with those magazines.
Anonymous said…
I don't know when or how, but some where in between graduating from college and now I forgot how to write. I started my blog as a fun way to get back into writing. I have spent a lot of money on how to write books. In fact, I just bought some a couple days ago. I keep telling myself I want to write professionally. I have yet to sit my hot behind down to write out any of my ideas. Thanks for the advice. I love your writing style and feel inspired by you everyday. I really need to pull it together.
Thanks for the advice. I just read a newspaper article about a woman who wrote an award-winning (Japanese) novel in two weeks.

All is inspiring.
Liz Dwyer said…
Jameil,
But I do think you'd make a great movie producer. You'd be cracking the whip and getting it done on time and under budget. And let's not forget about the future documentaries you're gonna make!

Claudia,
Ugh, working out! I should have done that today but I didn't. If only I'd read your comment earlier I might have done so. But I did go for a walk if that counts.

My novel is about family secrets, the relationship between mothers and daughters and racial identity.

Jen,
This does seem to be the week for memes, doesn't it? I have no doubt you'll come up with some great advice. When I read Claudia's advice, at first I thought I had nothing to add because hers is really good, but we all have our own little quirks and habits that keep us going.

Jstele,
That is one of the nicest things anyone has said to me in a couple of days! What a compliment and to tell you the truth, I would love to do something like that.

Fashionista & Baby,
You haven't forgotten how to write! You're just expressing the skill in a different creative form and sometimes you need that to build your confidence in your abilities. That said, I know exactly what you mean.

And I am really touched that I inspire you. Wow, it was such a busy day that I didn't get around to reading these comments till now and it's nice to see such thoughtful sentiments!
This is great advice (and quite timely). I have a script idea in my head. I need to just start working on it even if it's just for 10 minutes a day until I get more time.

Your novel sounds very interesting!!
Liz Dwyer said…
NYC/CR,
I can only imagine how much you have going on with getting ready to move halfway across the world! Wow!

The novel...I have to remember to not let it get too soap opera-ish. Kids in high school said I was most likely to get rich writing trashy novels and I need to remember to steer clear of that. -- the trashy part, not the rich part!
Anonymous said…
I think I would also say - don't over-write. I read so many novels of 300 plus pages that just run out of steam and become a dull plod. Every time I think 200 less rambling pages would have been crisper and more engaging. And I could get through more books!!
SheWhoLives said…
Hi Liz,

Thanks so much for the tag on this one - I am humbled that someone as obviously talented as yourself thinks I would have anything to offer!

I will ruminate for a bit and attempt to post something vaguely coherent on Friday...
Unknown said…
(sigh) I have to do less blogging and more writing. Actually, more editing and revising. I finished a non-fiction book two years ago, and a full length play six years ago. I've done nothing else with them but occasionally look at them. This is the most difficult part of the writing process for me--polishing a manuscript. I get tired just thinking about it!
Liz Dwyer said…
Nick,
That's a great piece of advice! I should have tagged you for this one instead! I mean, how many people have surely skipped a few pages of "Dubliners". And let's not even get started on how much of "Moby Dick" could've been left out.

Shelly,
I definitely think you have lots to offer! I can't wait to see what you say.

Angela,
That's fantastic that you finished a non-fiction book and a play! Wow! Yes, definitely pull them out and give it a go at revising them. I'm sure you have some gems there.
Sundry said…
Thanks for the tag, Liz, though you already snatched up the good stuff. ;) Okay, I finally did it!

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