Rank #1: The Worst Writing Advice - WN 039
The internet is brimming with writing advice -- both good and bad. Episode 039 of Write Now talks about how to determine which advice is worth following, and gives you a rundown of what I think are the worst offenders.
Bad advice is bad.
I think we've all received bad general advice at one time or another, such as:
"Gun it! You can totally make it through that yellow light."
"Aw, come on. You can totally handle one more drink."
"You don't really need to study for the bar exam."
"Your kids would totally respect you more if you dyed your hair blue."
Sometimes it's easy to tell whether advice is good or bad -- it's just up to us to make the correct decision. But other times, the line between good and bad is a bit more blurry.
Discerning good advice from bad advice.
Advice, like so many things, is relative. Advice that's good for one person might be bad for another person (think of medical advice as an example here).
So when you receive a piece of advice that sounds pretty good, ask yourself:
Is it true?
Who is giving me this advice? (Are they trustworthy?)
Why is this person giving me this advice?
Alex Cavoulacos of themuse.com offers two more great questions to ask when considering the source of the advice, in her article called "A Simple Test That Will Help You Tell If You're Getting Bad Advice":
"The vast majority of advice you’ll be given in your life will be one of two types: Either ‘Do what I did’ or ‘Do what’s best for me right now.’ Make sure you take the time to identify if either is the case before taking the advice at face value."
If either is the case, that doesn't immediately mean the advice is bad -- it just means that you have extra context to consider.
And again, advice is only ever just advice. It's not a marching order, and so it's your responsibility to consider it fully before taking or not taking it.
The worst writing advice.
Here's my list of the worst offenders:
"Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." -- This is simply untrue. I love to write, but at the same time I recognize that it is often frustrating and incredibly hard work.
"Art is never finished, only abandoned." -- This quote from da Vinci may ring true, but it's terrible writing advice. It seems to be saying that if you decide a piece is finished (and gasp! submit it for publication), you're abandoning it, which is shameful and guilt-inducing. When a mother bird pushes her baby birds out of the nest, she's not abandoning them -- she's sending them out into the world to flourish and grow.
"You can't force good writing." -- Au contraire! If you've written for a deadline before and produced anything decent, you've likely forced good writing. Now, what you may not be able to force is creativity -- but if you take this as writing advice, all you're going to get is the license to be lazy.
"I'm against schedules. Write when you feel excited by the prospect." -- This one is from novelist Rick Moody, and it happens to be bad advice for me. (Though it might be great advice for you!) I'm just so busy that if I never scheduled in my writing time, I would never get to do it -- even though I love it.
"You need [X] to write." -- Here, "X" can be coffee, booze, a lucky pencil, a program like Scrivener, a specific typewriter, or any other crutch. If someone tells you that you need "X" to write, they are probably trying to sell you "X". The only thing you need to write is you.
"Write what you know." -- Just... ugh. I hope you know how terrible and limiting this can be. Please do not take it as writing advice. Ever.
What about you? What's the worst (or best) writing advice you've ever received? Let me know in the comments below!
The Book of the Week.
I AM STILL READING Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey. I am SO SORRY ABOUT THAT.
Apr 05 2016
Rank #2: Writing Full-time - WN 065
Making the switch to a career writer is tough, but you can do it! Here are some pointers that can help your writing dream become a reality.
Apr 09 2018
Rank #3: Coffee Break 001: Barbara Kyle
Sep 17 2015
Rank #4: Do I Need A Website? - WN 033
Welcome to episode 033 of the Write Now podcast! Today I am answering the question, "As a writer, do I need a website?" I am also answering the inevitable follow-up questions of "Why?" and "How?" Stay tuned!
Though as you listen, please note: I am not a lawyer! So please take what I say in this episode as my own thoughts & opinions and not official legal counsel. :)
As a writer, do I need a website?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yessssssssssssssss.
Seriously, a website is a great tool for any writer, whether you're a novelist, a blogger, a journalist, a poet, or... you know. Any other kind of writer.
First, I'd like to establish the need for every writer to have an online presence of some type (if not a website). Whether that's a Twitter profile or an Instagram account, there's a community of other writers and (perhaps more importantly) readers online that you can't afford to ignore.
So why would you need a website if you already have a digital presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Ello, etc.?
Because you don't own those properties. Not 100%.
But! BEFORE I GET IN TO ALL OF THAT, just a quick heads-up that I now have a Tip Jar live on my site!
If you feel that the content I provide is valuable and encouraging, tossing a buck or two into my tip jar will help me continue to produce fun, interesting, & ad-free content on a regular basis.
Thank you! :D
All right. Now back to the good stuff.
Home... home on the web...
You need a home on the web -- a digital base camp -- that you own and control fully. Here's why:
You can more fully brand yourself -- you're no longer constrained by the blue boxes and formatting of Facebook, or the 140-character limit of Twitter. You don't have to worry about being censored or having posts removed if you're a fan of four-letter words.
Trust & credibility.
Your own website lends you trust and credibility. You can refer people to [yourname].com instead of encouraging them to find you on Facebook/Twitter/etc.
And you can set up email on your domain so that your queries and correspondences come from something like firstname.lastname@example.org instead of saucylibrarian82@hotmail.
Blog and write whatever you want.
Your website is also a great place to host a blog, where you can establish yourself as an expert in your field -- whether that's novel writing, poetry, book or music reviewing, technical writing, and more.
Build your audience, readership, or tribe.
Your own website is also a great home base from which to build your tribe, a.k.a. your audience or readership. Build loyalty, collect email addresses, send emails to the list you build, and more.
(For example, check out the black bar at the top of this page, where you have the option to sign up for the Write Now newsletter!)
Make the money you deserve from your work.
Finally! With a bit of finagling, you could sell your books from your website and not deal with the 30%, 60%, 80%, etc. costs of a middleman like Amazon.
How do I get my own website as a writer?
The awesome news is that you don't have to pay an agency $35,000 for your own website. In fact, depending on what you want your site to do, it's quite likely that you can make it yourself for a relatively small investment.
Here's what I recommend, depending on your level of comfort with digital & web-based stuff:
I built my website on wordpress.org, if you're curious. And no, none of these platforms is paying me to shill them (sadly). I actually do recommend them.
Measure your analytics & success.
Web analytics (such as Google Analytics, which is free and easy to install) provide a treasure trove of valuable information.
Jan 04 2016
Rank #5: 30 Tips for 30 Days of NaNoWriMo - WNP 048
From turning off your phone to staving off fear and/or hunger, this episode of the Write Now podcast is here to help you write through NaNoWriMo.
Nov 02 2016
Rank #6: How To Survive Your Day Job - WN 057
Corporate structure crushing your spirit? Wishing you could quit your day job and write full time? This episode is for you.
May 01 2017
Rank #7: Putting Yourself Out There - WNP 068
Some of the most frequent questions I get asked by writers are, "How do I get my name out there?" and "How do I get noticed as a writer?" Today, we'll talk about the two things you can do to find an audience.
Become a Write Now patron on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/sarahrheawerner
View show notes on my website: https://www.sarahwerner.com/
Thanks for listening, and happy writing!
Mar 25 2019
Rank #8: Your New Year's Writing Resolution - WN 032
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Let's take a look at New Year's resolutions specifically for writers in episode 032 of the Write Now podcast.
Make & keep your New Year's resolution.
Let's be honest -- we are not part of the 8% of the populace that actually sticks to a New Year's resolution. For most of us, a New Year's resolution is lucky to last through the third week of January. And many of us, I'm sure, see New Year's resolutions as dumb, hypocritical, or useless.
But maybe this year we can use the idea of a New Year's resolution to improve ourselves as writers.
8 tips for making and keeping your New Year's resolution:
Keep it positive.
Make it realistic and focus on just one thing.
Make sure it's something you actually want to do.
Establish a way to hold yourself accountable.
Set baby-step goals and celebrate every time you reach one. Remember, you're establishing a new habit and that is hard.
Set the stakes, if you need to.
Start before January 1! (Yes, you can do that!)
Remember to fail a lot.
My New Year's resolution for 2016 is to write 100 words per day, 7 days a week. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.
And I'd love for you to keep me posted, too. Contact me or send me an email telling me about your New Year's resolution. We'll hold each other accountable and make 2016 a year of amazing writing.
Book of the week.
This week's book is the complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. Because I'd been feeling down and cranky and maybe just a little bit cynical.
"Calvin and Hobbes" is a syndicated comic strip that ran in U.S. newspapers from 1985-1996 and, unlike "Cathy", "Family Circus", and "Rex Morgan MD", it wasn't terrible. In fact, it was delightful, and a source of constant and consistent inspiration for my young writer's mind.
This strip follows the adventures of an imaginative boy named Calvin and his best friend, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes. But it's anything but childish.
Bill Watterson has struck the perfect balance of sharp wit and scathing brilliance, raising the question over and over again of why we (whether child or adult) are constantly made to squash our creative impulses.
Through "Calvin and Hobbes", Bill Watterson challenges the reader time and time again to live freely and creatively, and to make the very most of the time we are given.
Keep up-to-date with my book-related adventures on Goodreads.
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Thank you! :D
What's your writing resolution?
I'd love to hear how you're challenging yourself in this upcoming year, and how you plan to stick to your goals. Let me know via my contact page, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. I look forward to hearing from you!
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Dec 28 2015
Rank #9: Living A Creative Life - WN 056
Are you living the life you want to live? Living a creative life is about making your own decisions and breaking the mold. But what does that mean?
Apr 03 2017
Rank #10: How to Prioritize Your Writing - WN 055
Where does the time go? Between work, family, and countless other obligations, who has the time to write these days? You do! Let's prioritize.
Mar 20 2017
Rank #11: Are There Any Original Ideas Left? - WN 042
Is it true that there's "nothing new under the sun", that we just keep retelling the same 3 stories over and over, and that Hollywood is out of ideas? Find out in the latest episode of Write Now!
Jun 06 2016
Rank #12: Coffee Break 061: Bob Stromberg
Bob Stromberg shares the secrets of living a creative life, taking control of your "muse", and rediscovering the creativity of your childhood.
Feb 05 2018
Rank #13: How Do I Find My Muse? - WN 044
Chances are, you've heard of the concept of a muse, whether you've read your fair share of Shakespeare or simply seen Disney's "Hercules". But can a muse possibly have an effect on us here in the modern world?
Aug 10 2016
Rank #14: What They Didn't Teach You In School - WN 047
We learned a lot of great things in school. But our educational system isn't perfect, and there are some things we should have learned about writing (and life) that we didn't. All of those (and more!) in this week's episode!
Oct 05 2016
Rank #15: How To Deal With Rejection - WN 040
Rejection happens to every writer. This week's episode explores
different types of rejection and how some of them can actually help
us to become better writers.
May 04 2016
Rank #16: Crafting Your Mission Statement - WN 046
A mission statement is a valuable tool for a writer -- it can help you understand your own story, remind you of your purpose, and guide you toward your goals. Today's episode of Write Now podcast will help you create one!
Sep 12 2016
Rank #17: Coffee Break 068: Anne Bogel
Author, podcaster, and literary matchmaker Anne Bogel talks about personality tests, the value of believable characters, and how books can change the world.
Apr 02 2018
Rank #18: Careers for Writers - WN 045
Stuck in a soul-sucking, toxic day job while you dream of being a paid writer? Today's episode covers 10 different career paths for writers just like you.
Aug 31 2016
Rank #19: Do I Need A Writing Degree? - WN 062
"Do I need a writing degree?" It's a complex question that involves factors like time, money, lifestyle, goals, & more. Work through your own decision with help from today's episode of the Write Now podcast!
Aug 02 2017
Rank #20: All Of The Best Writing Excuses - WN 058
Do you ever put off writing because you need to wash the dishes or watch American Idol with your spouse? Are these legit reasons -- or just excuses? Learn how to ditch the excuses and just write in this week's episode of the Write Now podcast!
May 16 2017