Friday, February 26, 2010

The Writing Advice Industry

The market for fiction shrinks every year, the attention paid to novels by the media diminishes monthly, booksellers demand ever-lower prices, everybody in the industry says it’s the worst it’s ever been. And yet more academic or private creative-writing programs are created every year, and the demand for advice on becoming a novelist remains furiously high. Indeed, the selling of advice on writing has become a self-supporting industry: I know young writers who are doing masters of fine arts in creative writing so that they can in turn become creative-writing teachers in similar programs. Any magazine article like this one generates Internet responses as lengthy as any novella. The discussion of creative writing seems more popular than creative writing itself.
Russell Smith in Canada's Globe and Mail comments The Guardian's recent 10 Rules for Writers lists and remarks on one of the biggest literary ironies of our time - everyone wants to be a writer, we swallow whatever advice we can get about writing wholesale, fuelling a whole advice industry ... but fewer of us can be arsed to read fiction!

Plenty of truth in what he says, of course, but it does seem sour-grapesy.  I for one am grateful for whatever insights about the writing process I can gather from books, article, courses and author chats, and find my appreciation of what I read deepened by such insights.

(BTW Linked to the article in the comments is this rather enjoyable blog post from Lauren B. Davis - Ten Questions Never to Ask a Writer.)

1 comment:

BorneoExpatWriter said...

Sharon,
This is so true...but when I give writing advice to others I'm often giving it to myself or reinforcing what I do know in an effort to remind myself to do as I say, otherwise, all the writing advice in the world doesn't mean a thing if you don't apply it, and if you don't apply it, how will that novel ever get written, and if it doesn't ever get written, how can it ever go through the process of getting published, let alone read, no matter how few read it! Enjoy the process of seeing it through to the end, and keep your fingers crossed for the rest...