Yesterday, friend and fellow writer Sue Burke sent me an interesting article on writing by Holly Lisle. Holly is a multipublished midlist author who writes nonfiction and several genres of fiction. That in itself is a good example of how to make it in this crazy business.
Her article offers plenty of good advice. If you spend much time reading "how to write" articles, you'll have heard much of this before--read a lot, know your genre, write constantly, etc., etc. Two things she mentions, however, really shine out.
First, she says "nothing you write is wasted." Try everything. If you prefer prose, try poetry. If you don't like romance, try writing a romantic scene. Pushing your personal envelope will help broaden your writing horizons and may even uncover a passion or talent you didn't know you had. The only thing I'd add is, "nothing you write seriously is wasted." Farting around will get you nowhere. As William S. Burroughs once said, "do not try to shortchange the muse. It cannot be done. You can't fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal."
The second high point of this article is when she asks us to challenge our preconceptions. She suggests we write from inside the heads of the characters, especially the ones who are different than us. Robert Anton Wilson suggested this as a good daily practice no matter what your path in life and it's advice I've always tried to follow. If I can, for example, manage to get into the mindset of a Born-Again Christian Republican, I can understand the U.S. a bit better. It also gives you a healthy objectivity regarding your own cherished views. It's not easy, but it's worth practicing. It's come in handy as a travel writer, I can tell you.
So check out the link above. Holly has plenty of good writing articles on her site.