ADVICE TO WRITERS

I am not a famous author. I am not really a famous blogger, either; however, I have convinced my neighbors and some people on twitter that I am. Since I have achieved this rarefied celebrity status all by myself, with the help of a laptop computer and Jack Dorsey, Al Gore, Mark Zuckerberg, and several thousand business cards randomly left on restaurant tables and in dental waiting rooms, I feel ready to distill advice to those of you readers out there who want to be just like me, or maybe even better. I can help you do this. 

I have been posting my thoughts and feelings into cyberspace on a very regular basis for over three years. This gives me the credibility I need to call myself a writer. Oh yeah, and I have won a writing prize, gotten a job blogging for somebody else, and I am writing a book. So listen up, all you wannabes! I am about to create an incisive and important list of advice to writers that you most likely have never read before. In this list, I will only mention one mark of punctuation. There are far more important things to consider as a writer.  I may or may not have listed those things below: 

COMING UP WITH IDEAS

  1. Use your neighbors. They are often hilarious. Just change their names very obviously. “Lauren” will know that she is your next door neighbor, Lori. For Pete’s Sake…you’re a writer! Call her “Lorna!”
  2. Don’t write about diarrhea in any form. It may be hilarious when it happens to your husband or when it erupts during a wedding reception, but nobody really wants to hear how it came to occur. I have tried this with very poor results and hostile blog comments.
  3. We all love poetry. Beauty. Itty bitty flowers. Kittens. But don’t write about them unless you are a really good rhymer, or actually a poet.
  4. Write about what you know. I know a lot about convenience foods, menopause, and Spanx. I have built a career around these subjects. Perhaps you are an expert on Brazilian hair waxing techniques or harmonicas? There is a writing career in that, I feel certain. 

COMPOSING THE PIECE

  1. Remember what you learned in school about paragraphing. I have tried cramming four ideas into one paragraph, with poor results.
  2. Use periods at the end of sentences. Other punctuation marks may become obscure, but the period is here to stay.
  3. It’s good to put your thoughts in order. Unless you are James Joyce, in which case it won’t matter, and you will become immortal.
  4. That blog won’t spell check itself! 

EDITING

  1. We all just love what we write. Each blog I write is like giving birth. You should see my waistline; it’s a mess. But you must be a cruel parent and cut out the crap.
  2. Cutting the crap out may entail asking another person to read your piece. If that person looks up and says, “Why, this is NICE,” you have a load of crap to remove.
  3. Let it sit for awhile before you push the “publish” button. Redo it. Ok. Now push the button.
  4. If anyone has ever told you that they adore long, meandering musings on a blog, these people are congenital liars. Only your mom likes to read your long, detailed reporting of your family vacation. 

SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. I wouldn’t exist as a writer without it. I make as many real connections as possible on social media, just short of posting pictures of my latest batch of brownies or a YouTube video of my husband mowing the lawn. But be pleasant and make as many friends as you can out there!
  2. Join groups of bloggers in cyberspace. There are twitter groups, Face Book groups, and all sorts of ‘writery’ websites. Reading books is a good idea for a writer—as long as the books have chapters.
  3. Reading about writers is fantastic research. Making friends with writers is even better. Hounding writers, however, is frowned upon.
  4. Be consistent. If you blog every day, don’t skip. If you blog every week, don’t skip. If you blog every month, consider doing something else. 

There you have it. Everything I know as a mildly famous writer. I do have an entire dissertation on the comma and the ellipsis, but believe me; you don’t want to read that one. Happy writing! Oh, yes. One more thing. Writers who give advice to other writers? They are either pompous asses, or they have a bad case of “writer’s block.”

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