There’s a saying in the autism community, “When you’ve met a child with autism, you’ve met A child with autism.” Think snowflakes – no two are alike. Same with autism, as teachers, therapists, doctors and even parents (like yours truly) learn early on in the “game.” My three girls have the same diagnosis, yet they are each very different in terms of strengths, deficits and abilities. The rules, teaching methods, carrots and sticks, likes, dislikes are as different as night and day for Mia, Gianna and Bella. Gianna speaks well (I caught myself telling her to “be quiet” and had to smile as a wish came true) Bella has just two or three usable words. Mia loves quiet alone time, Gianna is my social butterfly.
I tell you this not so you can pass Autism 101 (pop quiz tomorrow!) but to equate it to writing advice. What works for me as a writer might be completely wrong for you. I like to write with headphones blaring my favorite music for fiction. I need quiet for non-fiction. Coffee in the general vicinity is a must. No eating. I plow through a first draft without stopping. You might prefer to tweak and self-edit as you go. So how on earth can I give you advice? Plus, let’s face it, I’m a debut author, not Charlaine Harris. (New Sookie Stackhouse book came out last week!)
My only advice would be “write about what you know and love and feel passionate about” to make the very difficult process of creating a publishable manuscript a whole lot more pleasant. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t branch way out of your comfort or knowledge zone. You must. But you should be in love with your topic, even as you’re learning it. Got a cop with gun on his hip? Learn about the guns cops carry and make sure you choose the right brand. Small commercial airplane sputtering to the ground in a crash landing? Better get your aeronautical facts straight! I think this gives your writing an authenticity that a reader will smell from a mile away – and it will smell really good. Without passion for the subject, I think there’s a wall – or a disconnect – that the reader will also pick up – and make the dog poop on the shoe face. (Have you been to hear me speak? I talk about the dog poop on the shoe face a lot.)