The best, most disliked writing advice I’ve ever gotten


It’s the new year and the first Wednesday of the month–time for another Insecure Writer’s support Group post.  Feel free to join in.

This month (optional) prompt: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

The first one that pops into my head is “Kill your darlings.”

William Faulkner said it (actually he said, “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”

Also, Stephen King, who loves gore, said “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings” in his fabulous (and not scary) book On Writing.

What it means, as I understand it, is to get rid of those elements that as a writer I fall in love with in my stories but that don’t really further the story.

It is, of course, good advice.  But that’s why I dislike it so much.  When I come up with a beautiful image or phrase, I don’t want to cut it out.  I want to put it out into the world for all to admire.  And yet, I do kill my darlings.  Maybe I should start a collection of wonderful phrases, images, characters that I didn’t use.

I got this advice first from a writing teacher who edited my (not yet published) middle grade novel, “Beyond the Land of Dreams.”  And I did it.  But I didn’t like it.  Even though it did make the story flow better.

Anyhow, that’s my thought about rules I wish I never heard.  I’m curious to see what other people think about this one.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

And because I haven’t said it yet:

happy new year copy.jpg

I am a writer, handworker, artist and teacher (a WHAT!), and a mom of two beautiful daughters who are amazingly 17 and 21. I am working on getting my first book, a fantasy novel for young people, published and am busy spinning on my new spinning wheel. I have been a Waldorf early childhood teacher for 10 years now, and before that, I was a lawyer. Teaching is much more fun.

3 thoughts on “The best, most disliked writing advice I’ve ever gotten

  1. This is interesting to me – makes sense though. Do you find that it energizes or kills your motivation to continue writing? I’m just starting to write something other than a blog post, I’m not sure if it will end up being fiction or autobiographical, so this is all very motivating!

    • Hi Emily,
      First of all, thanks for your comment! I find it hard, but helpful. But I remind myself that editing comes after the first draft. First, I let it all flow, good, bad and indifferent. During that part, I remind myself not to edit, which is hard, too. And then comes the editing. Really I don’t usually “kill my darlings” until at least my second or third edit (or more). Good luck with your writing!!

      • Thank you for sharing your process! It’s really amazing to be able to hear from and learn through understanding other writers’ processes.

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