In my years of writing and worrying that I'm not good enough, that I'll never get published, that everything will be difficult for me for forever, I've received a lot of advice.
A lot of it has been good, a lot of it has been mediocre. But, after all of these pieces of advice, some that I have taken to heart, like you don't have to write 12 books before getting one published, you have to write one book 12 times, and some that I've left aside like, write every single day, even if you have to force yourself, and all of these have left me realizing that there are really no rules.
I keep thinking that books are like our babies. As writers, we spend so much time working on our novels, crafting them, creating this world with these characters, and making them really real. The term "kill your babies" wasn't created for no reason. But, just like you can't really judge someone's parenting technique after seeing a mother and her child in a Trader Joes for two seconds, you can't judge someone for how they write a book.
I won't begin to say that I understand what other industries are like. I don't know much about the music industry or art, or really anything other than publishing and a bit on advertising. But, it seems to me that a lot of writers, usually unpublished, are obsessed with the magical equation that will get our novels published. We have to look at how long it took John Green to write The Fault in Our Stars to justify how long we have been working on our own books. Or, we have to see how Tommy Wallach got inspiration for We All Looked Up. But, really, we shouldn't do this.
And, I'm just as guilty as I'm sure most of you are. I include myself in this. I'll even admit that part of the reason I'm writing is this because this morning I've decided to take a break on the novel I've been writing for over a year.
I really don't take breaks. Every second I'm doing something that's not productive in my novel or career or education, I feel like I'm just a big blob that's wasting time. But, even now, I'm not really taking a break. I'm taking a break from one book to work on another.
And, that's a piece of advice I've heard a lot from authors published and not: Don't leave a project in the middle.
Today I decided that I have to be able to make up my own rules for writing. I have to have my own routine, my own space (both of which I have) but I also have to ignore the so-called rules of others. Advice is one thing, telling someone to do something is another.
As an artist, you shouldn't have to worry how you fit into the wide vast of people who are in the same field as you. If everyone did everything the same way, we wouldn't have art to begin with. What if Frida copied Diego? What if Lennon copied McCartney? We wouldn't have what we do.
So, go, be awesome. Be you. Make your own goddamn rules.