Writing Advice Is A Dildo

Writing advice is like a dildo.

If you’re interested in writing, you’ve probably delved into a bit of writing advice.

“Show, don’t tell.”

“Know your audience.”

“Kill your darlings.”

“Write every day.”

“If you introduce writing advice in act one, you need to use it in act three.”

You know. Writing advice. That stuff.

Like a dildo, this kind of stuff is perfectly functional. If it’s straight and narrow and obvious, it can work for a lot of people a lot of the time. Like a good pair of boots, it gets the job done. That’s a good thing!

However, sometimes the straight and obvious writing advice just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes it gets boring. Sometimes, what you need is a dildo that’s bent at a slight angle. Or one that’s installed with a buzzy thing. Or one that has different textures along different parts. Or one that’s shaped like a fist. Sometimes, you really just need writing advice that’s shaped like a fist.

The thing is though, that weird, kinky writing advice doesn’t always work, right? Sometimes you don’t want complicated. Sometimes you just want something to get you through the draft with a surefire way to engage the majority of your audience. There’s nothing wrong with straight-up, missionary writing advice. It’s particularly useful when you’re learning, when you’re just trying to figure out what works and doesn’t. Because, frankly, you need those easy successes. You need the win. You need to get the job done.

But when the vanilla doesn’t cut it in the moment, you gotta twist it a little bit. When the vanilla doesn’t cut it, it really doesn’t cut it. Mechanical. Clinical. Obvious. Cliche. It gets you hung up on the safety of it all, and you just can’t find a good climax. Then you go home frustrated, looking for the prose that’s daring enough to do what you need.

Rules are made to be broken. Rules also have their place. Take advantage of that value, but understand when it’s reached the end of its worth. A writer and piece of writing advice is a relationship, and you’ve just got to understand when that relationship isn’t working anymore. The ability to use writing advice is nice, but the ability to willfully, wisely not use writing advice, or learning how  to twist it to your specific needs is craft mastery.

So, the important takeaway here is that you have to be picky about which dildo you use, and how you use it. If a dildo isn’t working, don’t be afraid to throw it away. Don’t be ashamed just because it works for others but not for you.

I’m fairly certain this whole blog post is ignoring about 50 known pieces of “essential” writing advice.

writingadviceisadildo

In other news, I’m over at Instagram! I’ll be doing some photo microblogging of my processes, and posting pictures of Blood Flow found out in the wild. I’d love a follow.

Here’s the first “out in the wild” shot, courtesy Paolo Bosi in Italy.

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