(We're talking about writing here, folks. What did YOU think I meant?...!!! Honestly, you people. Minds of filth!)
I don't normally like to read writing advice posts. I think I used to, but at some point I had learned enough that I actually had some opinions of my own. This has led me either to disagree with the author doling out advice, or—more often—worry that my process isn't similar enough to said author's process and therefore I must be doing everything wrong and THEREFORE I must not be a real writer.
And then I read this *FRABJOUS* post by Catherynne Valente on Charles Stross' blog. I highly recommend it. Here are a couple parts that I particularly liked:
"I've heard a lot of teachers say that you should write for yourself and not an audience, and while it's true that you shouldn't pander to an audience's expectations (you can never satisfy them) to the exclusion of your own sensibilities and enjoyment, to me writing is hugely about the audience. Maybe it's my theatrical upbringing. Playing to an empty house is a fundamentally different act. And not as much fun.
(I agree! I talked a little bit about my opinions on this way back in April 2010 which you can read here.)
"Almost every writer I know has at one time or another said they felt they were Doing It Wrong and there had to be an easier/faster/slower/better/less stressful/better tasting way to write a book. Not just the standard long dark teatime of the middle third of the novel where we pretty much all think we're terrible at this and should be strung up for the imposters we are, but that the method by which we accomplish books is the wrong one.
(You guys, I think that's where I JUST WAS. The dark teatime. Thank goodness it's over.)
"The truth is, if there's a finished book at the end of it, it's the right way to write a book. I say that having just stayed up all night for the second time this week to finish something, which I always tell myself is stupid, and I am stupid, and I am not in college and why couldn't I do it during the day like a non-vampire? But it's never been a realistic expectation of myself not to write things the way I have always written them, which is to say all in one go, usually late at night, pushing through because if I don't stop I can't doubt myself. It's part of who I am as a writer, and however you write is part of who you are, too."
(Let us take comfort in the fact that even Catherynne Valente, she who can write a sentence that stops you in your tracks with its beauty, also berates herself for being stupid about the way she writers.)
Seriously, it's a wonderfully candid, pragmatic post by a gifted writer, and I hope you check it out!
As ever, be kind to yourselves.