Mark Terry

Monday, October 21, 2013

Some Writing Advice

Today marks 9 years as a full-time freelance writer.

So I suppose I should give some writing advice.

My nephew, Dylan, recently graduated with a degree in creative writing. My son, Ian, is midway through his sophomore year at MSU in the Professional Writing program. As far as I can tell, both of them want to have careers writing books and TV and film. But they're willing to write whatever will pay the bills, I think.

So with them in mind, and anyone else who wants to make a living as a writer, freelance or otherwise, I considered all the advice I could give. There's tons of it. Typically, when asked the best advice I've ever gotten as a writer, I cite: Think more, write less.

This nugget was provided to me by one of my former agents. I still find it very good advice.

Then, walking Frodo, I hit upon what I think is excellent advice for writers. It goes way, way back to a friend's father, who was in international sales for a humungous pharmaceutical company. He told me once, "I can sell shit wrapped in tinfoil."

After laughing, I thought, Why would you want to?

And the question has stuck with me for 26 or 27 years.

So perhaps the best writing advice I can give you is: Don't sell shit wrapped in tinfoil.

I'll let you decide whether that's good advice or not. While mulling this over on my walk, though, it did occur to me that in our culture, a lot of people seem to get really wealthy doing exactly that: selling shit wrapped in tinfoil. And for whatever reason, people keep coming back. A few examples came to mind, and keep in mind it's just my opinion, but: Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Jersey Shore struck me as two.

But hell, what do I know? Still, I try very hard not to sell shit wrapped in something shiny. I want my clients and readers and publishers to come back for more. So far it seems to be working.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know about the tinfoil-selling part. But the reason that a show about, say, the Kardashians does well is the old saying:

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."

8:21 PM  

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