The Four Categories of Writing Advice

I’m often on the lookout for new good writing advice. There are four kinds to choose from: aphorisms, mechanics, grammar, and gimmicks.

Aphorisms get you things like “Write everyday” and “Read everything.” They each speak some level of truth and at times they motivate me, but none of them inspire or help.

Mechanics, for me, are about the structure stuff. When to climax and after how many acts. I’ve been gobbling this stuff up because it feels like a big hole for me.

Grammar—and spelling—is another hole for me, and I do explore here. I try not to get bogged down in the details though. I think the details are important, but I also think that I can do an end run on some of the details when such word-dodgery is required. I apply my learning here in chunks.

Gimmicks are almost always petty grammar foibles: “Know the difference between there, their, and they’re.” Really? Who the fuck is you’re target audience when your crafting that blog post?

My most recent bit of one of these four was an aphorism. It arrived amusingly enough moments ago. At 10:45 or so: “Don’t wait till the last minute to write.”

What I’ve been craving, and what I’ve been finding un…findable is a fifth category. The category which tells me when I’ve written a paragraph one sentence too long. The category which convinces me that I really do need one more point to make my argument solid. The category which screams “Now is not the best time for that much parallel structure. Tone it down.” The one that tells me to reorder this paragraph to the last rather than the penultimate. I guess—I hope—I get that from writing everyday.

270 words on day 846