Take Your Own Advice

July 29, 2010

Can you recall a recent conversation with writer friends when you gave them some terrific advice that they thanked you for?

Maybe you reminded them that they should focus on the process, not the product.

Maybe you suggested that they just get to the desk and see what happens.

Maybe you told them that writing is work, and that they owe it to their talent to give themselves time to work.

Maybe you buoyed their spirits when an agent or an editor rejected their work by telling them stories about how often famous writers submitted their first work.

Maybe you told them that good work takes a long time.

Maybe you suggested that they write that scene that scared them because it wouldn’t get any easier with time; maybe, after you told them, they called you and said that they wrote a draft, and though there was way more work to do, it was easier than they imagined like most hard scenes.

Maybe you indicated what you know about the end of a project — that the tendency to hang on to it is huge, and that, when we’re almost finished, we start hating the work, or think it’s boring (it is, to us, because we’ve been writing it for ages, but it won’t be to other people), or think it’s awful, and you gently remind them that it might be time to let go.

But I’m sure the last time you spoke to a writer friend you said something helpful; I’m sure what you said helped; I’m sure the writer thanked you.

So…Write down what that was.  And tell it to yourself.  Take your own advice.  We don’t, all that often, and that’s a shame.  But if we remember how we helped a writer friend, we can, perhaps, listen to what we said, and take our own advice.

Try it.  And see what happens.


4 Responses to “Take Your Own Advice”

  1. Nancy Caronia Says:

    Two reminders of this in two days. Edvige Giunta just reminded me of writing advice I gave her years ago–how we need to write and allow it to be the compost that will create the beautiful book (garden). I have said that to students throughout the years–it’s about process and the discipline of sitting down to write–it doesn’t have to be “great” because it is all compost for the garden. Yet I forget that advice when I sit down to write. I think it’s time to post “Make Compost” on my bulletin board over my desk. Thanks for the nudge! Nancy

  2. xxnettie09xx Says:

    The first one reminds me of many things. I had friends in academic writing courses and art classes where they only concerned themselves with the final product and not the process. I would always tell them think about the process because it may end up being more fun than getting to the end of the project. There may be things that they wished they go change or go back and do over. I worry about the end product when it gets near the end. It takes the stress out of worrying about how the project will end.

  3. Angelica Roman Says:

    Such a simple message but a very powerful one nonetheless. Sometimes when I write I am met with a lot of insecurities and at times, have no one to talk to. After reading your blog post I intend to take your advice which essentially, means taking my own.

  4. Michelle Cando Says:

    It’s kind of embarrassing to think about all the advice I’d given out to friends because I really could benefit from a lot of it. Mostly things about staying organized and sticking to a schedule, which I am so terrible at. And also encouragement about standing behind your work and being confident in your abilities.

    It’s one thing to be conscious of the advice you give, and it’s another thing entirely to actually internalize it and apply it to yourself. This is something that I really need to work on. There is so much that I could get done if only I followed (and really believed) my own advice.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: