QOTW 6: Best Practices, or Look Out Below!

What my brain looks like after following a so-called writing best practice ... (Wile E. Coyote image, courtesy of Looney Toons and Chuck Jones)This week’s writing question (okay, okay … so I only recently answered last week’s question. Don’t judge) refers to the myriad of best practices for writers out there. I laughed out loud at something that was written by our dear Gabriela as she described her experience: she decided to read Stephen King’s On Writing (yes, that book in the S section of my shelf) and how she considered following his suggestion to write many words per day and read many books each year.I laughed out loud because I hadn’t even made it that far in Writing to know what Mr. King’s suggestions were (please forgive me, Mr. King! I still love your work!). However, the thought of such a regimented routine reminds me of why I didn’t join the military.I’m not good at following a strict order of processes. My brain isn’t wired that way. I mean, following the directions explicitly makes my brain crash and burn, just like Wile E. Coyote after a particularly unfortunate engagement with an Acme Company product (see what following the directions does for him?).Now see? That’s why I adore Ray Bradbury! Did I mention that he is my #1 favorite author? I suppose it stands to reason since I live in a space filled with speculative and science fiction. Anyway, I digress.There is nothing inherently wrong with best practices. If they didn’t work for either a successful single somebody or a gaggle of somebodies, they wouldn’t be best practices, now would they? For some, digging into NaNoWriMo is gold — following the expected word count to cross the finish line with enough words to make a book of some sort (after extensive editing and self-reflective questions like, ‘What was I thinking?’). I’ve done NaNo a couple of times and felt quite pressured. However, at the time, it was a great motivator.Personally, I tend to avoid best practice advice. I want to go boldly where no writer has gone before … or something. Thank you, Mr. Bradbury: let’s try this and see if it works. and if it doesn’t, no harm and no foul. Move on.The best practice is to keep writing. Something. At present, my various in-process works are not receiving much love. Just not feeling it. But when I do, I engage in little else. I try to keep up with a flash prompt or personal reflection (Note the posts on my new adventure, working out …) so my fiction-writing chops don’t chill long enough to thaw.Do you follow best practices? If so, what are they? Have you had any Wile E. Coyote crash moments in attempting to follow a best practice? 

4 thoughts on “QOTW 6: Best Practices, or Look Out Below!

  1. Sometimes I think we’re so busy reading more books on how to write, we never get around to actually doing any writing. There is always a new book with a “foolproof” plan for writing, editing, and/or submitting your novel (like there’s always a new diet that will guarantee you’ll lose weight 🙂 Sometimes the “foolproof” only proves you are the fool. I’ve deleted at least half a dozen “how to” books from my handy-dandy e-reader.

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  2. I think we are often drawn to successful formulas and best practices because the people who teach them to us are more successful than we are. But they had to spend the time to come up with what worked for them. Perhaps by giving the advice they are just trying to save us time. But each of us must find our own way to keep writing the words that need to be written.

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