Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You Can Quote Me

by Holly West

I'm not a big fan of quotes about writing or "writing rules." Sure, Elmore Leonard's rules are useful, and occasionally, an inspirational quote strikes a chord. But in general, these platitudes about writing I see so often on Twitter and elsewhere just bore me. I'd rather hear what you had for lunch, or better yet, see a picture of your puppy.

See, isn't that better than a tired old quote?

That said, there are there are three writing principles that resonated with me early on and have stayed with me.

1) Just do it. ~Nike

2) Finish your shit. ~Chuck Wendig

3) The best marketing tool for your book is your next book (or something like that). ~Don't remember where I heard this

The first two "rules" helped me cut through the romantic notion that writing is some mystical thing that requires muses, copious amounts of booze, and an MFA to accomplish successfully. Once I realized that the only way I was going to be a writer was to write, all of my previous excuses kind of fell away and I got to work.

The third reminds me that I'm in this for the long haul. It doesn't so much inspire me to sell books as as it does to continue creating and working hard. If I sell a few books along the way, well, I'm certainly not going to complain about that.

Distilling my writing philosophy down to these three principles keeps me focused. When I start to waver or doubt myself (which is pretty much every day) I go back to these basics. Simple as they are, it actually does help. And sometimes, I need all the help I can get.

What's your strategy for keeping focused on the work? If it includes inspirational quotes, don't worry, I won't judge (but the puppy might).


David Cranmer said...

You remind me of the A.A. Milne quote that goes, "[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business."

And the philosophy that I go by brings me to another quote that says, “Writers write.” But I’ll be damned if I can remember who said that one and I'm to lazy to search out now. Basically similar to Chuck’s.

Hope the puppy is cool with my comment.

Holly West said...

The puppy loves your comment.

David Cranmer said...

Please give the puppy a treat for me, Holly.

(and I see I need to go back to school for to vs. too in my above comment. oh well)

Holly West said...

So do I because I didn't even notice.