I normally don't like e-newsletters or weekly updates from companies that tell me I need to see/do/go/buy something. Then again, who does? I usually end up deleting them if they even make it through the spam filter to my inbox. This past week I got a newsletter (from a company that will remain unnamed) about some writing classes that were being offered this summer in NYC. In addition to advertising their courses, they also include workshops (sometimes free) they might be offering (which I have taken a few of) & also give links to articles about writing & links on where you can find writing tips or ideas. I was skimming through it and something caught my eye. On their website they have a section called "Tips from Masters" and listed some notable names like Poe, Vonnegut & Kerouac. I was intrigued and thought well if these literary geniuses have some writing advice to give out to someone like me, what do I have to lose? So I click the link and on their site they have listed articles of interviews, essays & tips/advice that writers from the past & present have doled out to us future and oh so hopeful writers.
All of the articles were really insightful and helpful but the one that I found I most connected with was the list that Neil Gaiman had written (which was previously published in The Guardian). In case you don't know who Neil Gaiman is, here's the little blurb that prefaced his writing tips:
"Neil Gaiman has become so popular he is often considered the “rock star” of the literary world. He trades mostly in science fiction and fantasy in a variety of forms—novels, children’s books, graphic novels, comic books, and film. Among his trend-setting works: Coraline, The Graveyard Book and The Sandman series. He takes readers, of all ages, to the very edge of imagination."
Not only where his tips raw & honest, I felt that they are realistic and pretty damn funny too.
Neil Gaiman's 8 Good Writing Practices
2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.
3. Finish what you're writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.
4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.
5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.
6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.
7. Laugh at your own jokes.
8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I'm not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.
So I came to this conclusion: spam email isn't always bad - it can be good for you sometimes. But spam in a can? yeah, that shit is ALWAYS bad.