Our friend Stuart Jaffe wrote this for our newsletter. I wanted to share it because I think it is great advice for writing!
For The Savannah Quill newsletter
by Stuart Jaffe
Most advice on writing is worthless. This isn’t because it’s wrong but rather because writers are individuals following an artistic pursuit which, by its nature, cannot be governed with set rules. However, I do have two thoughts to share with you all that may help as you discover your own writing path.
First, momentum. Whether you write every day or once-a-week, whether you set word count goals or go until you drop, whether you put words to page in a frantic outpouring or in methodical order, the fact is that we all need momentum.
I tend to write every day provided I’m actually working on something. At this moment, for example, I haven’t written fiction for about three weeks because I’ve been researching my next Max Porter novel. Since the Max Porter novels take real Southern history and mix it with the supernatural, I have to spend extra time researching historical events. Thus, my writing momentum is near dead at the moment.
Once I start the actual writing, the first few days, I’ll be lucky to push out 300 words. It’ll be arduous. But if I stick to it (and I will), then each day gets better. The momentum builds. Soon I’ll be back to my regular daily 2,000+ words. I’ll finish writing for the day, and the rest of the hours by brain will keep writing, so that the next morning, I’m ready to go with new ideas and new words. The momentum keeps it rolling.
The second thing I want to share is what I call the One Rule. See, there are no rules in writing except this: If it works, it works.
That’s it. Simple.
It doesn’t matter what the “rules” say you should and shouldn’t do. If you can make it work, if you can get readers to understand and enjoy what you’ve written, then the “rules” are meaningless and wrong. Example: The “rules” would say never write a book that’s in 2nd person, present tense, and non-linear. The “rules” say it won’t work.
But in the 1970s, Edward Packard came along with what would eventually be called the Choose Your Own Adventure series. Those books are in 2nd person, present tense, and certainly non-linear. He made it work, so it doesn’t matter what the rules say.
If it works, it works.