Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Ten Roads to Hell or why quick advice backfires

I often come across blog posts such as 50 ways to write a bestseller or 20 signs of great epilogue or A hundred ideas of how to kill your protagonist. To me they look like No ways of coming up with an interesting idea or Five cheap tricks to increase your blog following.

Well, I’m only provoking you. Relax! Writing tips are useful, but they shouldn’t be your only diet.


In any field of human activity if you take shortcuts, sooner or later you will regret it. Writing is no exception. Why do you think people study writing properly, sometimes all their life?

Yes, they are few geniuses who can naturally write amazing things requiring just a little bit of line editing before their masterpieces reach the reader. If you are one of them, please let me know, I’ll buy your book.

If you are, however, like me, a green young writer, forget about shortcuts and be prepared to spend several years to hone your writing while reading voraciously anything including the books on the craft of writing (I’ll come to them later).

What did you expect to hear? This blog is a self-therapy (did you think I’m writing this for you, dear?.. Of course, I am)! It’s not a quick guide on how to be a crappy writer. I suffer from the same malady too, falling for shortcuts, because I’m too impatient, I want everything now.

But there is a mystical part of me, somewhere in my skull, which sometimes instructs me to be diligent and achieve long-term goals by following routines like writing everyday for an hour or two. This instruction may sound boring, but it’s up to you to make it fun. I have wasted too much time shortcutting, don’t make my mistakes.

Some of you may become suspicious and say that the whole point of craft of writing blogs and workshops is to train young writers quickly. And my advice here is too pre-historic, clearly not up-to-date with modern pedagogical techniques. In my opinion, these blogs and workshops are only there because it’s someone else’s living. In science, some students eventually become either good tutors, or great research minds or great administrators, and rarely three in one. Similarly, in the writing world only a few have a full package to become a great bestselling storyteller, but others need to earn money somehow. By teaching writing techniques, for instance.

Writing workshops can be very useful, but they are not substitution for your own self-education. They help to orientate you, not to manufacture you into a star writer. It’s not The X factor.

And some workshops do it better than the others. Beware of bad misleading advices and look for the best recommended material approved by successful writers and professionals.

Don’t take any advice for ultimate truth. Apply your common sense and demand a logical explanation. Ask questions and argue (of course politely).

And remember if you are serious about writing, it’s going to be a long journey, so make it exciting for yourself. Communicate; don’t live in a barrel like Diogenes.

In conclusion, as I promised, I’ll mention some of the books, which helped me with my writing and communication.

Plot and Structure and Revision and Self-editing by James Scott Bell

Outlining Your Novel by K.M.Weiland

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King

These five books contain so much information it can take years to sink in. So while learning the craft remember about your social circle, expand it, interact with other writers, potential readers, publishers, spouses…

And the most important thing – live, experience and read a lot, that’s how you are going to enrich yourself and build up content for your writing. Ideas are not just born out of nowhere, but out of our sub-consciousness, which is affected by the nature of information we receive.

Treat your sub-consciousness with rich, colourful, sweet and sour deserts of information. Not just from the telly, because you want to be a special writer with unique voice.

Explore the world, read forgotten books, search for rare facts and ideas.

And forget about ten roads to… Hell!

P.S. Have a + attitude.

 

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