Some writing advice is stranger than others. The oddest useful advice I can think of is this: Don't listen to the Guyoto Monks while writing.
The Gyoto Monks are the Dalai Lama's crack spiritual troops, best known for the fact that they can chant in chords. Individually, I mean. Scientists who have looked into this say that clearly what is going on is that they hold the larynx motionless at the first and second resonance points. Then, like a plucked guitar string held motionless at those same points, the result is a chord. Exactly how they learn to do this is a mystery because scientists and Buddhist monks simply do not speak the same language.
It is claimed -- and I believe it -- that listening to the Gyoto Monks chant raises your mind to a higher spiritual level. Again, there's some speculation about alpha, beta, and gamma brain waves, but the explanation still eludes modern science.
The reason I believe the claim is that I used to listen to music on headphones while I wrote. One day I put on a tape I'd just bought of the Gyoto Monks chanting and began to write. As they chanted, I grew increasingly calm and peaceful. And I stopped writing.
I got up and got a cup of coffee, did a couple of minor chores around the house, went back and started writing again, still listening to the monks. I started out with a clatter of keys, slowed, stilled . . . stopped.
This happened several times. The chanting would raise me to a higher level of consciousness in which I no longer desired to write. Writing, it appears, is an inherently low form of consciousness. Possibly, it may even be sinful.
I mentioned this to a writer friend and he said, "Yeah, the same thing happened to me. Eventually, I had to throw the tape away to get any writing done at all."
Which is what I did.
The monks, most likely, would tell me that my spiritual well-being is more important than anything I might write. But, as with the scientists, they and I simply do not speak a common language.
And for those of you who are big Kindle readers . . .
Somebody over on Facebook alerted me that Amazon has The Best of Michael Swanwick available in Kindle format for three bucks. For a collection of stories that took me over a quarter-century to write, that's pretty cheap.
You can find it here.