Remember: Not All Writing Advice Is For YOU
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1. Latest News from the Desk of Sooz:
You might notice a new look here. After years of failed delivery (both with Mailchimp and Mailer Lite), I have accepted there’s something about my domain that spam filters doth not appreciate.
As such, I’ve moved to Substack. It isn’t as pretty as I would like, and it lacks the visual bells and whistles of my last newsletter…
BUT IT IS ALSO FREE.
Y’all know I’ve struggled to afford maintaining this newsletter. On the one hand, having so many subscribers is a #blessing! 💁♀️ On the other, my royalties have flatlined, so justifying the financial costs of hosting the Misfits & Daydreamers is just no longer feasible.
So, let’s hope that Substack works for us all!
P.S. Now is a good time to link again to the last issue in which I talk about the “author spiral” and how badly I (and other authors) need you to preorder! (I’ve moved it over to Substack for easy reading.)
P.P.S. Substack allows you to leave comments! I’m excited about this feature! (Though, be polite please, or we can’t have nice things.)
P.P.P.S. This newsletter exists thanks to readers like YOU! To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
2. Writing Prompts:
SHORT STORY ✍️
A superhero wakes up one morning and their powers are on the fritz. But they have BAD GUYS to stop. What do they do?
I've been in a funk lately, stewing over many Deep Thoughts and asking lots of Big Questions that the universe can’t answer. Do you ever find yourself in such a mood? What are the Big Questions you find yourself stewing over?
3. For the DenNerds: Luminaries sweepstakes!
Have you met Winnie Wednesday yet? Here she is in homeroom, enduring a birthday song from her bullies…
There is an epic sweepstakes coming up via the LumiNerds mailing list that will go out on Friday! TEN WINNERS will be selected for super fancy ARC boxes. Don’t miss it!
And, because I have to keep shilling my works or else fall into obscurity, here is a reminder to preorder!
THANK YOU. ❤
4. For the Daydreamers: Remember Not All Writing Advice Is For YOU
I have been very #blessed to travel again this year for book promo, and it has been such an absolute delight to see readers. It has also been an absolute delight to engage with my fellow authors and talk shop.
I LOVE talking about craft.
But you already knew that if you’ve followed me for very long. 😉
One thing that I used to be guilty of is to speak in maxims. This is the way one writes a book, and this is the only way one can write a quality book. I spoke that way because writing instructors spoke to ME that way—in their courses, in their books, in their blogs, at their events…
But if there’s one thing I can assure wholeheartedly to you all, it is this: there is no one way to write a book, and there is absolute no universal standard for what defines “quality.”
Now look. I know most of you are going to roll your eyes and say, “Well, duh, Sooz. We all know it’s subjective.”
Except…do we? How many times have you read something and declared outright that it was bad? How many times have you watched something and screamed at the TV because omg, the character would not DO that based on what the show has established as their modus operandi? (Yes, yes, I’m looking at you Ted Lasso, s2.)
The thing is: most people seem to have loved Ted Lasso s2. And just because it drove me up the proverbial wall to watch what I personally felt was a betrayal of every established character motivation from s1…that doesn’t make it WRONG. It doesn’t make it BAD.
I love Becca Syme’s writing advice (highly recommend checking her out if you haven’t yet from my previous shout-outs!), and one of the things she constantly says is that just because something is an outlier doesn’t make that something wrong. We love to exclude outliers as if they have no bearing on the data (as a former Stats major, I can tell you this is true. We do this.), but that’s not accurate when it comes to people—at least not in something as truly non-universal and subjective as the craft of storytelling.
I’m an outlier in my fury over Ted Lasso s2. That doesn’t make me wrong. Nor does it make all the people who loved it wrong.
Again, I won’t pretend this is a profound revelation. What it IS, however, is something that’s actually really hard to swallow and accept.
I can’t tell you how many panels I’ve been on where authors will say, “There’s no one way to write a book! But now let me tell you the best way to do it.”
And I get it. It’s easy to assume that if it works for me, it will work for everyone. Not to mention, we all want a reliable formula that will lead to a reliable outcome. When I put this dollar in the vending machine, that thing had better spit out a freaking candy bar.
But you can’t do that with writing. Or painting or drawing or composing or acting or any artistic endeavor. I can’t put in a protagonist, an antagonist, and three turning points…and voila, A Great Novel is born!
(If only I could! I would be so much more prolific. 😭)
Instead of putting a dollar into the vending machine, writing is more like…assembling the dollar from a ton of atoms without a clear blueprint save for your knowledge that they must ultimately end up rectangular, papery, and vaguely green. (Although, you could also assemble the atoms into four flat, metallic circles…or a piece of plastic with a microchip on one side.)
Then once the atoms have been shoved into the vending machine…you’re not really sure what will come out at the bottom. It might be a candy bar (5 stars! Best book I’ve ever read!) or it might be a turd in a plastic wrapper (OmG /wHo doEs ThiS WriTeR thHinK She IS?!_).
You just don’t know.
And allllllll of this is to say: I get really annoyed now when I hear writers speak in universalities. It’s often meant to be helpful—Oh, just do it my way and you’ll have the success I have!
But you actually might not. In fact, you probably won’t.
I had a well-meaning (and honesty quite lovely) author tell me recently that the secret to their 3 book/year speed was that “they just write 5 pages per day, without fail, and soon enough, their books are done.” And admittedly, they did quickly add, But you can’t do that with a toddler at home.
The thing is though that even without a toddler at home, I still can’t do that.
Mainly because I can’t write 5 pages every single day. Some days I can write 10 pages, some days I’ll write 20. I’ve even written 40 pages in a day (something I’ve never been able to repeat, but that other authors manage all the time). But then there are also many days where I write nothing at all. Either because I’m stuck in the story and need to simmer or I’m burned out from a Cricket-shaped two year old.
That doesn’t make me wrong. I still write books. I still turn them in and publish them. I just work with my own rhythm, and that well-meaning author works with theirs.
And YOU need to work with your own. It takes time to figure out what your rhythm is, to figure out what shape you’re aiming for in a story (do the atoms make a dollar bill? four quarters? a credit card?), to figure out the methods you’re most comfortable using when you plot/draft/revise, to follow ANY of the endless complex steps that are involved in writing a novel…
It’s great to try what other writers do and suggest. I always wholeheartedly recommend that you try new methods because you never know what might unlock something special in your brain.
But also take all those methods with a grain of salt. Especially methods that promise to transform your process and create only candy bars! (To quote Becca Syme again, always question the premise!)
There is no one way to write a book, and there is absolute no universal standard for what defines “quality.”
You do you, my friends. And I’ll do me. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we won’t end up with too many turds wrapped in plastic.
(NoO, bu/T rEalLy whO doEs SHe thI!NK shE Is?! i Wou,LD gIvE iT 0 StaR;S iF I cOuLd!)
5. UPCOMING EVENTS:
Instagram Live with Elayne Audrey Becker — August 31 at 8PM ET
Grand Rapids Comic-Con — schedule to come!
Luminaries Tour — kicks off November 1 — dates and cities to come!
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have an incredible weekend! 🐙 Don’t forget to leave a comment or a like!
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