It will be no surprise to anyone that I hear a lot of writing advice—some good, some less helpful. But some of it is just literally untrue, and yet the myths are so pervasive that people believe they are terrible writers because they are not following that advice.
Draft chapters include a lot of ‘pins’–phrases that help us keep the chapters connected to one another and to our main argument while we are still constructing the book. ‘As we argued in the previous section’ or ‘see Chapter 2 for more on this’ are pins that hold different parts of the book together. But in the final version, you only need to signpost if your writing is changing direction or coming to a stop. Then it’s time to take the pins out.
Writing has technical aspects, sure. You need skills, and training. And you need to be organised and disciplined about keeping up with deadlines and juggling projects. And writing has physical challenges, you have to sit and use your back and wrists and neck and eyes. But, you also bring your weird, inner, non-rational self to the desk when you write. The inner self that has views about what music you can listen to, or that you need to enact your writing rituals before typing a word. There are good reasons why you might like what you like, but a lot of it just is personal preference, and that is totally a great reason to take it seriously.
In 2013, I wrote one of my most significant early posts on this blog, The Perfect Sentence Vortex and How to Escape It. That post