Good afternoon, Cyberspace!
There are about a million and one tips and tricks that people just LOVE to blurt out when it comes to the struggle of writing, aren’t there? Writers love to give other writers encouragement. NON-writers love to give writers encouragement.
Pinterest loves to give writers encouragement
And I’m willing to bet that all of you have heard this lovely piece of advice at one time or another:
“This is your ONE CHANCE to tell this story! This is your story, your words, your world that you have built from nothing! Own it! You have one chance!”
In fact, I’ll admit it–I’m completely guilty of flinging out this little line when it comes to giving writing help.
And I’m sure that this particular piece of advice comes from the well-meaning encourager trying to tell people that their story is 100% uniquely their own and only they can tell the story the way that they want to tell it and they shouldn’t worry about throwing ALL OF THE THINGS into their story because, again, their beautiful minds are unique and perfect and all that–
I have come to the firm conclusion that this is one of the most rubbish pieces of advice that I have ever heard in my entire life.
And here’s why.
“You only have ONE CHANCE to tell this story!” (and why this advice is utter rubbish)
It Is Completely Crippling To The Creative Mind
Why, yes. You heard me correctly.
I said crippling.
Let’s let that sink in for just a moment.
When someone says that I only have one chance to tell a story, it makes me begin to hyperventilate.
Why? Because I do not like being told I only have one shot, sir.
In fact, it irritates me immensely, wot.
See, the wonderful thing about writing is that there are many chances. And when I say many, I really mean thousands.
I even came up with a smol song for all you writers out there.
One, Two, Three, Four, Let Us Draft A Little More. Five, Six, Seven Eight Nine Ten, Write ‘The End’, Begin Again!
I mean, any writer knows that a single story has multiple do-overs. So when this little writerly advice tries to tell me that I only have one shot, it is my inclination to respond with–
Then how in the world am I on the fiftieth draft of my novel, my good sir???*
Have I been miraculously blessed with the neverending one chance? Did I forget to clock into the ONE CHANCE machine?
Have I *gasp* broken the system???
No. The fact remains that there are multiple chances to write this story. You’re going to go through about a million different drafts whilst crying tears of shame because you cannot seem to finish the enigma-of-a-book that is ever-changing.
One chance? I think not.
(*why yes, I am aware that I’m only on my second draft, thank you for noticing this most glaring exaggeration)
And another thing–
It Makes Me Feel Like I Have To Include ALL OF THE THINGS To Avoid Any #REGRET
Something else that really bugs me about this particular piece of advice is that it makes me feel like I have to include ALL of the things, just in case I regret not including them later.
I mean, sure I’m writing a story about Evil Scientific Experimentation now, but what if I want to write about Evil Scientific Experimentation in the future? And what if *gasp* IT’S SLIGHTLY SIMILAR TO WHAT I’M WRITING NOW?
What then? Did I already use my one chance to write about Evil Scientific Experimentation? What if my future idea is better than my present idea, but I already published my present idea???
WHAT DO YOU DO??????
“WHOOPS! Sorry, friend! You only got ONE CHANCE. Better luck next time!”
See, something you guys might not realize about me is that I am absolutely paranoid when it comes to running out of something, especially creativity. I never even used my stickers as a child because I would then, obviously, have no stickers. I just kept them in their nice little books and let them waste away in my junk drawer because I wanted to make sure I used them on the PERFECT thing, when what I really should have done was just stickered up the entire house and also my face because I used to do that, as well.
Getting back to my main point, when someone tells me that I can only do something–such as writing about Evil Scientific Experimentation–one time, my brain immediately goes into overdrive and begins thinking of all the different directions that the story could go, and also tries to find loopholes to incorporate all of those ideas into one story, because I’m terrified of never getting to use that insanely awesome idea ever again.
So, naturally, I end up with a creepy old dude in the basement of an abandoned hospital doing experimentation on monkeys and rats and also humans whilst trying to invent the world’s biggest donut.
And this is a problem.
Because idea one would have evil scienctist #1* experimenting on monkeys to stop the immense growth of back hair, and the second would have evil scientist #2 experimenting on rats to make a formula to cure the world of pimples, and evil scientist #3 would be experimenting on humans to make them bright and shiny and blue so that they would be appeasing to the aliens who invaded the earth two moons ago.
(i’m not sure where the donut ties in, to be honest)
Do you see my problem here? Do you see it?
(*that is a number sign, you technological peasant. this is what normal people used to use before hashtags)
Basically, because I think I’m rambling far too much and probably not forming coherent sentences right now, here is what I’m trying to say:
Write what you want, whenever you want, as many times as you want, and do not be afraid if your stories have similar elements, because each story will be unique no matter what.
wow. that was a lot easier to write than this entire post.
Can we just agree that we won’t restrict ourselves to the ONE CHANCE philosophy anymore? There are millions of drafts we have to wade through in the writing process. Don’t be afraid to mess up and be creative and just write whatever pops into your head, even if you’re worried it won’t make sense to anyone else, or even to you.
Let’s not be afraid to write because we’re striving for perfection in a world that offers none. Writing is a beautiful, chaotic mess.
Embrace that fact, my smol crumbling. Embrace it.
Turns out that this Smudge was more of a rant than anything actually helpful… OOPS! I hope I making some coherent sense and didn’t just word-vomit all over you guys…
So anyway! Are there any pieces of writing advice that you just can’t stand? Would you like to see me debunk more terrible writing advice in the future? Do you actually like this piece of writing advice that I totally just ripped to shreds before your very eyes in a very non-coherent and incredibly confusing fashion? Let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below! I shall make sure to bring the cookies.
*flings cookies in the air and disappears*
the cookies I just flung are not, in fact, the cookies I shall be feeding you [that would be unsanitary, folks])