Tough love

I sent this tweet out into the world this morning, mostly to get it off my chest.  I didn’t expect to get any reaction at all1, but it hit Favrd and I got no less than 6 direct replies to cheer it.  So I thought I’d throw a little more backstory out there, in case anyone cares2.

See, I have this friend, who really wants to “be” a writer.  I put be in quotes, because he doesn’t really want to do the writing, he just wants to inhabit the state of being that he equates with writerishness.  He’s very earnest and innocent about it though, which makes it hard for me to give him the advice that he truly needs.  And he asks me for a lot of advice.  Which I don’t have a lot of time to give, but have given freely anyway.

This morning I got a rather long email from him3 asking me about such-and-such writing book and whether he should buy it, and it pushed me over my limit with the “nice” advice.  After tweeting my initial reaction, I wrote him a longer but equally profane email version of it just to shake him into reality a little.  The gist of the message being that reading about writing and taking “workshops” about writing and buying that top-of-the-line MacBook Pro and custom writing software aren’t necessary and definitely aren’t going to make you a writer.  You need to Put Words Onto Paper – something he did only rarely at best.  The guy spends so much positive energy on trying to absorb knowledge about the subject versus practicing the craft.  I felt it was time to stop coddling him and push him into the pool.  I finished by saying that if he wanted any more advice from me, that I’d have to see a sample of his writing for me to critique by the end of the week.  Nothing motivates like a tight deadline.

I get the feeling this won’t be the last time I’ll want to write a “Tough Love Writing Tips” guide – so much “writing advice” out there is either clinically dry and laden with pedantry, or excessively touchy-feely Get In Touch With Your Inner Creative Spirit nonsense.  Rarely do I see anything that’s direct and painfully honest, yet also relevant and entertaining and not entirely spirit-crushing.  So I’m considering expanding my email, dressing it up into a full-blown “guide”, and putting it on the site.  Not sure how useful it would be, but it would certainly cut down on the number of advice notes I have to send.

  1. Other than maybe lose a few followers because of my ALL CAPS PROFANITY. Wouldn’t be the first time. Too many sensitive Twitterers, there are.
  2. I know you don’t care. But you’re reading this, aren’t you?
  3. Yes, he knows I am posting all about this. He’s cool with it, and we shared a laugh over it too.
posted 7/8/08 at 11:11am to Slightly Too Long For Twitter, Writing · 5 replies · permalink