I write a lot of articles about writing. I also read a lot of material about writing. The point of doing this is so that I can improve and become a better writer, hopefully a writer that people will want to read. So I soak up as much advice and tips as possible, learn as many techniques as I can, and study as much theory as I find useful. Through doing this, I’ve learned two things. One: Writing is like any other craft in that it can be broken down into smaller components and skills. Two: If you concentrate too much on the theory and forget that there is a difference between the way things are in the instruction manual and how they play out in practice, you really can end up shooting yourself in the foot. What am I saying? Like everything else, deviation from the middle path ends up hurting you.
In the song Lateralus by Tool, there is the lyric, “Over-thinking, over-analyzing separates the body from the mind/Withering my intuition, missing opportunities.” This is a sound warning that plays into life in general. Life isn’t a theoretical thing. It’s messy, it’s complicated and the only way to experience life is to live it. To do otherwise is to put a wall between the actual act of living and the thoughts and plans and foresight that are part of living. By always thinking in terms of, “should’s,” and, “ought’s,” we can very quickly turn what is a dynamic, exciting adventure into something sterile, without any spontaneity. Writing is a lot like life. You might have a general plan you want to stick to but in the end, the story will take many turns you could not have predicted. You may know how it will end but the path you take to get there may be unpredictable. I believe that some of your best writing will be unplanned and will be like lightning striking. That one perfect bolt can’t be called down from the sky. You just have to be fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time.
So, my bit of advice for you: stop seeking advice. Figure it out for yourself as much as you can. Don’t let writing become like a skeleton of rules. Writing is supposed to be alive and vibrant. So stop reading this and go play with some words.