This one applies to everyone, not just writers. At least, anyone with a goal. Stop listening to people who are trying to derail your efforts. You have things to do.
So there I was, scanning the forums, handing out advice, and I found this wonderful thread full of bogus information. The OP (I won’t say the website to keep the guilty parties anonymous) asked a very simple question in a writing topic. They wanted to know if anyone was willing to do a cooperative motivation schedule with them to generate 2000 words per day or more. This person knew exactly what they wanted. They had been “working” on a novel for some amount of time, and decided that they wanted to finish it. A person like this needs a push in the right direction, toward their goals.
Every, single, reply. Bullshit deflating comments about “take a break for a while” (she’s obviously already been taking a long break) or “not everyone is Steven King,” as if his little 2000 words per day has any relevance whatsoever. There were comments about quality vs. quantity, etc. etc. etc. All fine advice in their own right to their own specific audience, but the author was looking for motivation to write more, and none of this advice did anything at all to help her on that path. Being the troll I am, I left very specific advice about not listening to de-motivators, and if she really needed a kick in the ass, I could provide that. I might need one myself this month, so we could totally help each other.
This got me thinking about the bigger scope of advice, and what is good and bad advice? If someone was cranking out words to the point of burnout, or writing and writing without improving (impossible), then some of the advice would have been good. It’s not bad advice, it’s bad placement.
So how do you figure out what is good advice for you?
Know Your Role, and Your Goals
Take five minutes right now, and scratch your goals out on a piece of paper. I’ll wait, but you only get 5 minutes.
If you have them, you can skip to the next section. If you couldn’t come up with what your goals are, and write them down in five minutes, then you need to do some serious soul searching. You have to know what you want. Goals should be clear and focused. You should know where your priorities lie, and be be ready to implement them immediately. You should be able to file every task that floats by your desk into your list somewhere.
If your goal is to write a book, then how many words are you scribbling today, how many pages of edits on a finished draft, how much time per day devoted? If your goal is to run a marathon, how many miles are you running per day? If you goal is to make more money, what are you doing with your spare time to climb the ladder? It’s real simple. Figure out what you want, and focus your free-time.
As for my blog, I can tell you that if you don’t have a focused goal, there’s probably very little on this page that is going to cater directly to you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give shit advice, and I’m not here crunching away on my keyboard just to post content, but if writing isn’t high on your priority list, then you need to read each post with some speculation. If you don’t want to increase motivation and work towards anything, then I’m surprised you are still reading this post, as you’re wasting your time.
Evaluate the Advice You Receive
So you know your goals, you know what you want. Those goals are much more than just a compass direction, they can also be used as a powerful filter. Every piece of advice you receive, and I don’t care if it came from a homeless guy or a bestselling author, EVERY piece of advice should be filtered through your goals. Every tidbit of information screened and scrutinized. Every podcast evaluated for the return on your time investment. Simply put, if the message being delivered doesn’t apply to you, then it isn’t worth following. I’ll give you an example.
Goal: I want to make at least a dollar more an hour, as soon as possible.
Good Advice: You should be spending every minute of free time doing job searches online and following up on local leads. You should be prepared to quit your job if they aren’t prepared to give you the raise you are looking for.
Bad Advice: Everyone hits hard times. Try being a little more thrifty with your shopping, learn these lifehacks, and you’ll have extra money with what you already make.
The interesting thing here, is that both of these pieces of advice, on their own, are good advice. They’re excellent advice, thank you very much, but one of them is in line with the goal, and the other is ancillary. If you can do both great, but if you have to choose one, then go with the one that gets the result YOU want. Do the job searches. Don’t spend those same hours raising backyard chickens to save on the price of eggs (another good idea in it’s own right, btw).
When it Comes to Writing Fast
You know me, I’m going to tell you that writing faster helps with everything, and so would most of the people that I follow. But if someone truly doesn’t care about writing speed or getting words every day, if they don’t give a crap about anything but sentence and story structure, I might plug the fast writing thing, but I’m not going to harp on it. If you want to spend time learning about tidying up sentences, outlining better stories, grammar, punctuation, or anything else, and you don’t care how long it takes, then you should be reading blogs, buying style books, and learning new tricks.
If, on the other hand, you want to be finishing stories, then you need to be putting words on a page.
Use the Filter
It isn’t just about your main goals, and advice on them. Every piece of advice you receive about anything should be filtered and either adapted to your goals and your situation, or it should be discarded. Know your goals, and you will know exactly what to do with every piece of advice. You’ll be able to adapt on the fly, take the good nuggets of information from every article (including this one) and you will be on that long dirt path toward the light. If someone gives you advice that doesn’t help you toward your goals, then box that shit and leave it on a shelf until you need it. Don’t apply every strategy just because Joe Blow bigshot author said that’s what they do. It doesn’t matter what they do, they aren’t you. Figure out what you want, and use it as both a compass and a filter.
Thoughts? Comments? Bitches, gripes, complaints? Leave them all below, and have a great day 🙂