On Advice on Advice

ive been thinking about writing advice a lot lately, remembering old articles from university, books i liked, things i carry with me. It's a difficult genre to do. Good writers are bad at explaining it, and people who are good at explaining it rarely have anything to say.

I don't like procedure. Procedure is a trap. Every writer has a different system so you can safely ignore any suggestion of a method. No one cares what pen you use, what desk you sit at, what font you pick, what program you use. Write it on napkins, buy a ridiculous leather book and a £300 fountain pen, just get on.

The only method is sit down, do the work. Or don't. 

Recharging your imagination can be work. Reading, mostly. Films and TV are a little useful but the time:value is not great. One good book can nourish you for months, most films are barely a snack.

Social media is not work. Communities is not work. Writing is work, preparing to write is work until it isn't. 

Don't be your own critic. Others will do that for you for free. 

Always always look at the back catalogue of anyone telling you what to do. Feel free to ignore me.

Be brave. Write the game you want to make and ignore everything else. Experiment with structure and form. If you want to have a 10,000 word read-aloud box of a diegetic novel in you adventure then do it. Have the entire adventure in one room. Tell me where that cup came from in such a way as being entirely impossible for anyone to find out through normal means. Don't eliminate yourself from the work in pursuit of an audience. This isn't penicillin, we can experiment with the formula. If you aren't then you're committing the cardinal sin of inflicting boredom

Be ugly. Never be afraid to look cheap and nasty. Similarly don't be scared of being too beautiful, too expensive, too much. But don't feel you have to be one or another for someone else's benefit

Finish it. Just finish it. Then make people pay for it. People who think you're making toys will pay it, they're used to it. People who know you're making art will pay it, they know what you're dealing with. You need to eat, you need to escape the cycle and breathe. 

Even if it is bad charge us for it we will buy it

Do not try to please anyone. Do not be dungeons and dragon. Be small, be specific, be interesting.

Nothing you do before writing matters. Sit down and write. Whatever got you to that position is what you need to do to keep on doing it.

Ignore assumptions, reevaluate accepted systems for how books are laid out or approached. And for the love of god look at things outside RPGs. All it takes is for someone to play boardgames, read history, read something not in appendix n, and they look like a genius innovator. We're not. None of us are.  We're looters who travelled further from the village.

Steal harder. Write an adventure that is a criminally close copy of a novel you've read. Transform it. You'll learn things.

Be inconsistent. Change everything, ignore everyone, write. Be only consistent in that you sit down and write. Even if you are bad at it, write. Write more, finish more, ignore audience ignore clicks and fame, people will recognise something special if you just keep doing it. 

Think: Eventually a body of work can't be ignored. The size might vary, but it speaks for itself. You don't want a mad success, steer clear of it. They are poison, full of switch-backs and madness. Slog in the dirt, write, finish. There isn't anything else, no way out.

I have more but it is 5:50am and I'm bad at it


  1. This was fun to read. Thank you.

    I wrote a game. It's just mixed up 0e, Holmes and B/X. It works really good. It's not groundbreaking at all. I will publish it just as soon as I approve the final galleys. I like it. I'm proud of it.

    I wrote a novel. I published it. It sold about 500 copies so far. When I am dead it will still be out there. I don't care who likes it. I like it. I am proud.

    If you write something and publish it, you will be proud too.

    Western Terminus: https://www.amazon.com/Western-Terminus-Eli-Tucker-Thriller/dp/1795358289/

  2. Good post. The only way to get work done is to get working!

  3. Best advice I've read on the writing process was built into the whole NaNoWrMo process. Just write and write fast and get that first draft done. After that your mileage may vary.

  4. This is actually quite inspiring. And encouraging. Thank you!

  5. Thanks for your candor. We need way more of that in the writing world.