This post is going to degenerate into another “I hate writing rules” rant. I can feel it in me bones!
[Who knew old bones were sensitive to not just to changing weather but also to one’s own bad attitude? Old bones make excellent bludgeons by the way (especially femurs), though I believe I’m drifting off topic.]
I’ve been playing in bands or at least engaged in some kind of music project on and off for almost three decades. I’ve recorded in professional studios and performed on many stages before all kinds of audiences. The only “rules” I remember hearing are: 1.) Practice a lot, and 2.) Listen to different kinds of music, not just the style you play. Granted, I don’t read musician blogs (are there any?), but that seems like a stark contrast to the massive volume of writing advice and rules heaped upon us daily. It’s alarming how many ways I am failing as a writer.
I’m particularly negligent when it comes to “reading in my genre.” Partly because I don’t know what genre I’m in (is Twilight Zonish a genre?), and partly because, beyond my desire to be entertained and moved by good storytelling, I don’t care what other writers are writing. I’m a bad student, I know.
“Listen to all different kinds of music” is fantastic advice… much better than, “Listen to all the bands that play the same style of music you do.” Absorbing the tones, rhythms, and textures of jazz, metal, soul, reggae, classical, disco, punk, and blues music has made me so much better of a rock musician than if I’d been admonished to listen to the other rock bands to see what they‘re doing! Writing songs comes from the heart and soul, not from carefully tracking trends, as should writing prose.
Sure, no one said only read in your genre. But I’d go as far as to say, “Deliberately read outside your genre. Bring something unique when you come back.”
[Before you hurl some “apples and oranges” comment toward the stage (I’m specifically addressing Mr. Frutman in the aisle seat on the left, row 7), I don’t like apples or oranges and am therefore impervious to your cliché. Arguments about illogical thinking, on the other hand, might carry some weight.]
Look at that! I made my point in under 400 words. Who loves you?
I’ve been podcast again! To relive the excitement of my post on cringe-inducing books, this time with a professional voiceover specialist, click here.