When you need help to make sense of this whole writing thing, who you gonna call?
Google “writing advice” and you’ll get 575,000,000 results. Or more, by the time you read this. It’s all too easy to drown in the vast pool of tips, tricks, success and failures stories and surefire systems for becoming a writer.
Whose advice do you follow? Whose model makes sense for the writing life you hope to have?
All of them. And none of them. And, it all depends.
One of the reasons writers become overwhelmed and confused about how to make this writing thing work in the digital age is that there are so very many kinds of advice, offered up by people who’ve made various systems work – for them. But if those systems don’t fit with the image you have of yourself as a writer, and the goals you want to accomplish, it’s likely they won’t work for you.
There are several major “schools” of guidance for writers on the web. One is inspirational. You’ll find advice from successful authors on things like claiming your identity as a writer, embracing your writer’s journey, and overcoming your fears. (See my post on why so many articles about writing play the fear card.) Jeff Goins of Goins, Writer does a masterful job of the inspirational/encouraging kind of advice.
Another is the bootcamp – hardnosed, sometimes confrontational, writing advice on overcoming your limitations and getting your career off the ground. These experts are often in your face, brutally honest and uncompromising in their assessments. You’ll see this kind of material in Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing and occasionally even in posts from the great blogging wizard Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic.
You’ll also find the nuts and bolts school of writing advice – practical tips on things like managing your time, finding an agent, marketing your book and leveraging social media. Top writing experts like Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn, Mary Jaksch of Write to Done and Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer offer useful, actionable information on getting your work in front of readers and managing the practical aspects of your writing career.
And there are many others besides. Including, dare I hope, Yours Truly, who aims to help digital writers on a shoestring find and use the free and low cost digital tools they need to become the writers they want to be – along with a hefty dollop of cynicism and snark derived from a lot of years spent writing, publishing and coaching writers with all kinds of dreams and aspirations.
There are times when you need the gentle hand holding of an inspirational writer who tells you it’ll all be OK, and other times when you might need a kick in the butt – and still others when you just need to know how to get it done.
Assembling your roster of go-to writing mentors starts with a deceptively simple step: know yourself.
What parts of the process do you need help with?
Overcoming your own creative blocks?
Creating a portfolio?
Outlining a novel?
Finding freelance work?
Starting a website?
Wherever you are – and wherever you want to go – in your journey as a writer, there’s a guru for that. Gather the allies who can really help – and leave the rest behind.
Who are your writing mentors? Where have you found your best writing advice?