After learning more about post-process theory and before transitioning to new material, I'd like to do something fun. It's easy to search Google for writing advice and come up with countless blogs. I performed the same search and found substantive results from professional well-known published authors.
For the purpose of this list, I will provide a tip from one of the lists that I found and I will pair it with my own analysis, extension, or general viewpoint of that tip.
It's important to remember that you are allowed to disagree with me on any point. Your writing is your writing and you are allowed to pursue it in the way you see fit. It is entirely your right to accept, reject, or critique any advice you read or receive.
Original: "No one cares as much as you do."
Revised: "No one knows as much as you do."
If you are presenting your ideas to a friend, family member, mentor, or a professional, and you get the sense that they don't care, see if it's possible to find out why. While one solution might be to find more supportive friends, you might be able to treat this as an opportunity to find good substantive feedback.
No one is going to understand your ideas for your projects [and by extension, you] better than you understand it, so it's good practice to reach out to people who can help you realize your vision or tailor your vision to something that you can find the most fulfillment in.
Original: "Writer's block is an illusion."
Revised: "Writer's block is something that isn't fully understood yet, but we are learning more and more about it every day. By extension, everyone experiences blocks differently, so find a way to understand yourself and what helps you through your writing process."
I've written at length about how writer's block can be turned on its head and used as a tool. Having writer's block means that you are aware that writing is a complex task, that you are concerned about the intricacies that can make your writing the best possible expression of yourself.
I read about some authors who feel that writer's block is just an excuse that writer's give themselves to not write. While it's possible that this can be the case for some, if I've learned anything about writing, it's not a universal truth. Blocks are experiences that can turn into opportunities for development if you allow them to be.
Original: "Writing is lonely."
Revised: "Writing is a social act."
It's well worth the reminder that writing is done with intent to communicate to oneself or others. The planning and resources that are put into writing projects are often social as well.
It's important to remember that writers have choices. Some writers produce their best works in crowded and loud settings, some prefer no distractions at all, some prefer the quite company of a friend or two at the other side of a table or screen. I've found that authors who produce these lists are often adamant about the level of distraction a writer should have, but none of these answers will reflect the way all writers think and communicate through their work.
In my case, sometimes I prefer listening to a random indie folk or post-rock playlist while I work. Other times, I like to spend time with friends. I also change my physical setting at times just to test out the working experience. This is both normal and healthy.
Original: "Brainstorming isn't writing."
Revised: "Create a planning space that works for you and try to use it to express what you're thinking in a way that reflects how you're thinking."
Talking to other people about your projects and getting feedback from them can help in whatever planning strategy you choose to employ. It's hard and it can be intimidating to take steps towards achieving a goal. Writing something down or typing something can also make it look permanent even if it isn't.
It might be a good idea to practice changing your thoughts as you plan them. Try to experiment and change a few things about your plan and see how it looks, feeling secure that none of those changes have to be made and that you have autonomy over your own work. All of this is brainstorming.
Blocks or writing apprehension can happen at this time. This is natural, but they don't make the act of writing impossible. Working through obstacles and turning them into tools for personal development is possible, and feedback directed towards this goal can constitute more productive advice.
Original: "Beginnings matter."
Revised: "Beginnings matter and deciding where to begin matters."
Writers do not have to begin writing at their chosen introduction. They can begin writing in the middle of their book or at the end, wherever they feel they can best express their ideas.
Having a deeper understanding of how a text progresses can give a writer a better idea of how their beginning can look and fit. They'll have fleshed out their meaning to a greater extent and could find a way to help that meaning carry through.
It might help some writers to implement their decision into their planning. If a writer does this, I would suggest choosing a section of their writing that they are the most comfortable about and connect it with another that's slightly more challenging to express. Notice how those two ideas lead into one another and then pick another section. These are gradual steps, but they can be helpful.
Original: "Write the way you talk." Alternatively, "don't write the way you talk."
Revised: "Consider the task that has been set for you or that you have set for yourself and think about what you want to express and the tone you want to take."
A lot of writers love absolutes. While there are some absolutes that can apply (don't write something with the intent to harm), this isn't one of them. Writing to capture a dialect can be extremely interesting and can be an essential part of a story, but it's not easy.
One thing I did not discuss in this interview is that comedy writers will often write in the way that they speak or perform because their niche often specifically calls for that. Fiction writers, when focusing on different characters, might choose one or two to reflect how they speak, but choose another tone for others.
Others might choose a different voice for their writing or, naturally, another voice might come out in their writing that's different from the way they speak. Writing can be a performance like any act of communication, but that depends on how the writer chooses to frame their work. It's all about making those choices.
Original: "Read famous authors."
Famous writers are famous for a reason, but there's a lot of great material and possible inspiration out there. Kurt Vonnegut is an incredible author. So is Chaya Bhuvaneswar. Regardless, it can be an important step to reflect on what specifically impacted you as the book's reader.
What are some things that you notice about the way they write at the sentence level? Does this change throughout the text? What about their content? What makes it compelling or not compelling to you? Do you wish that something would have changed or that the idea would have been different? Converse with what you read. Allow yourself the opportunity to respond.
Reading something "bad", depending on your definition, can be equally effective. Is it so bad that it's entertaining? What makes this book stand out? What advice or feedback would you give to this writer? Again, converse with what you're reading. This can serve as a helpful exercise for anyone with writing apprehension.
"Find the joy."
"Choose your words wisely."
"Rejection is healthy."
I don't feel as though any of these tips need to be changed. Finding the joy in writing is validating and affirming. While some elements of writing can seem tedious, it's important for writers to remember what makes the act worthwhile for them and what brought them to writing in the first place.
Also, while words have definitions, they also have connotations. This means that it's possible for an entire message to be misconstrued because of word choice. However, it's important to use discretion because some writers will have an intention in mind and claim that their work is being misconstrued.
Coming from that, not everyone is going to understand your message. Not everyone is going to like your work. Rejection can be healthy. Rejection, while it's valid to feel negatively, can be an opportunity for feedback and growth.
Process your feedback.
Analyze your feedback.
If you need to, critique your feedback.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and Purposeful Prose and given feedback on the posts made thus far. After learning about post-process theory, I've decided to take what I've learned so far and apply it here!
Also, I have an interview scheduled with one of my wonderful colleagues. We have chosen a topic and an interview date and, if everything works out, I'll be releasing it [or a part of it] around mid-October. I look forward to introducing him to all of you and, possibly, more interviews in the future!
If you would like to be a part of the Purposeful Prose community and be able to "like", comment on my posts, or make use of my forum, you can become a member. If you would like to send feedback or suggestions as to what else I should cover, you can also use the chat.
As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
Alexa Donne. (2018, October 10). HARSH WRITING ADVICE! (mostly for newer writers) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYqZjCsAJeg
Fassler, J. (2019, June 24). I Talked to 150 Writers and Here’s the Best Advice They Had. Literary Hub. https://lithub.com/i-talked-to-150-writers-and-heres-the-best-advice-they-had/
Masterclass Staff. (2021, August 23). 8 Tips for Improving Your Writing Style. Masterclass. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/tips-for-improving-your-writing-style#8-tips-for-improving-your-writing-style