Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Advice On Writing

Posted on April 29, 2011

A lot of people will give you advice on writing.

Some say you must sit in the center of a perfectly quiet room wearing noise-canceling headphones and horse blinders to be a writer. Just you and your Royal Underwood typewriter and a maybe a cat missing one eye.

Others say you must stand in the middle of bustling Grand Central Station, nude except for a suit and tie and shoes, also underwear, shirt, and socks. They tell you you’ll need a number two Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencils and a standard 6” by 9” Steno pad. And, as a writer, you need to smoke a cigarette while eating a donut.

Still other people tell you you require only a laptop and a comfy four-poster bed. They tell you to drink green tea and listen to soothing music about our vaginas, surrounding yourself with photos of frolicking African children. At noon, take a break to do yoga and create abstract expressionistic pottery that represents your writer’s soul. Only then will you be a true writer.

Others tell you to go out into the world to find something to write about. They say you should fight forest fires and parachute into war zones and impregnate a Brazilian prostitute. Better yet, be that Brazilian prostitute who starts forest fires in protest of man’s futile nothingness. Only then will you be a writer.

Some say you need to be born a writer. Writing can’t be taught; it is a question struggling inside you, yearning to make its way out of your fingertips. What is that question? Probably some weird Freudian stuff about boobs and poop.

Others say a writer must drink his or her way into writing--be it wine or ale or absinthe. Preferably absinthe, because it will fuck you up. They say you need to expand your mind with drugs and spirit-animal walks and autoerotic asphyxiation. Then they raise their eyebrows suggestively and nod toward the room in back that smells like candles and leather. That’s when you notice they have a creepy mustache.

Others say a writer must be a performer. You must speak the words fire before you can understand them. Take improvisational comedy classes and perform at poetry slams. Find a group of like-minded writers and spend long hours screaming at each other for never having watched The Wire. Spend every waking moment going to shows and not writing. That is how you become a writer.

Some say to bare your soul, to reveal every tiny detail about your childhood and hopes and fears and dreams and past loves and past bosses and number of orgasms and religious crises and adventures abroad and teenage pranks and health scares and gameshow failures. They say that writing is truth, and truth is life, and we must share every detail in order to writer.

Some people say all that. People are assholes, though. So, I don’t know---do whatever you want. Personally, I think you should go back to school to be an insurance actuary. But, what do I know? I’m just your father who loves you and wants what’s best for you.

[sigh] Go ask your mother.

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