Here are some popular writing myths that I just don’t believe in:
Write what you know
Well, obviously you can’t write about something you know nothing about. But if you limit yourself to only what you know then you could end up with a pretty limited range. Better advice would be: write what interests you. And if you don’t know enough about it, then do some research. Then you’ll know about it 😉
In the second draft, cut
This advice only applies if you overwrite and let the plot go off on irrelevant tangents. But there is actually such a thing as underwriting. Underwriting results in underdeveloped characters, bland settings, rushed action scenes and underwhelming climaxes. That’s not to say that your prose won’t benefit, in the final polish, from a bit of nip and tuck. But make sure you’ve actually got enough words on the page to create the effect you’re after before you start pruning too drastically.
Write every day
Why? Is your hold on your story so tenuous that you’ll forget everything if you have a day off? Ideas need time to percolate. Your subconscious will continue to work on the story even if you’re doing something else. There’s a reason why good ideas pop into our heads just before we drop off to sleep: it’s because we’re relaxed and not trying too hard. Give yourself a break occasionally.
Write 1,000 words a day and you’ll have a novel in three months
If only. Setting a daily word count is fine up to a point. Personally, I think a weekly or monthly target is a better idea. There’ll be some days when the words flow and other days when they dry up to a trickle. That’s normal. There’s no point getting depressed and beating yourself up about it. Sometimes you need to step back from the metaphorical canvas and spend time contemplating the story as a whole. And these simplistic mathematical formulas never take into account planning, researching and editing. They make me quite cross, actually.
Is there any writing advice you disagree with? Leave a comment below.