I have been reading a lot of writing articles and advice videos lately that have gotten me to consider all the bits of wisdom out there for writers just starting out. This led me to want to write a piece on all the bad advice writers should revise and reconsider ….
There is a lot of them out there and this series will be broken into two parts. In today’s blog post, I am discussing five pieces of advice that are not so helpful. I hope you enjoy the article and please leave in the comments below the worst writing/reading advice you have ever received. I would love to hear about them. Thank you!
#1 – Writers should read everything they can get their hands on, including stuff they know is terrible or that they will hate/dislike! …
- The problem with this piece of advice is super simple. Life is too short to be wasting your time reading material that you know is terrible or that you won’t like at all. This should be revised to say writers should read a lot. There is wisdom behind the advice that writers should be avid readers. It does help tremendously, but as readers, we are going to come across stuff that is terrible anyway. Why go in search of it? Read as much as possible and be diverse in your reading choices; however, writers should not force themselves to read anything that they already know they will not enjoy. There is no point in that and it is absolutely useless.
#2 – Writers should write every day
- There is nothing wrong with this piece of advice and it is a great one to try to follow; however, it is not always reasonable. Many of us have full-time day jobs, careers to fulfill, and school to attend. These must come first. We have a family, friends, and children to care for and look after. Writing every day is not always going to happen and although the advice is excellent in theory, it is not always realistic. A more reasonable approach to this advice is to write as often as possible and do something productive towards your writing goal daily. This can be accomplished in many ways like watching a quick writing video for tips and advice on something you’re stuck with or for general knowledge towards your goal of becoming an accomplished writer. On a ten-minute break at work, read a writing advice article on your phone. Productivity can be found in a lot of ways, such as jotting down some quick ideas or notes running through your brain. Get creative!
#3 – Don’t start off big by writing novels, but begin with much smaller formats like flash fiction or short stories until you have progressed enough to go bigger.
- This piece of writing advice truly hits home for me because it is a bit of logic I have followed for the last year as I struggle to develop my writing skills through short stories, poetry, blogging, and practice. I honestly don’t think trying to stick with small writing has made a huge difference for me as a writer. That is not where my improvements have stemmed from. I have become a better writer slowly by just simply writing, the feedback everyone here on the blog provides me when I share my work, reading as often as possible, and watching writing tutorials. I would go as far as to argue by trying to keep my writing small, it has actually been a hindrance in my progress towards becoming a novelist. If you write only short stories, then you are going to master writing short stories. It is very different from writing a novel. This is why I think writers should write what they want. Go big right off the bat. There is no point in not doing so and it will help and give you the ability to learn through experience. Practice and writing are what will make your skill grow not limiting it because of fear or insecurity. If a writer truly wants to write a book, then not feeling ready is no excuse. Dive right in! Only good tings can come from it! A writer can learn quite a lot by writing a terrible novel rather than never trying. Never hold back because the will stall progress very quickly.
Please Note: I am not saying a writer cannot write both short stories and novels. I am saying write whatever it is you want to write! That is where a writer learns! If someone wants to be a novelist. Then write novels and learn from it. Never hold back by saying you cannot achieve it. That you are not ready. I promise you are!
#4 – Take all writing advice with a grain of salt.
- This one is actually a bit more complicated than what is implied. There are circumstances when this should be followed and others when it is okay to ignore it altogether. I will start when it is NOT okay to take advice with a grain of salt. If a writer wants to be taken seriously and produce material that engages the readers, there are rules that MUST be followed. The rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation are one clear example of this. Writers have to know their business. It is about professionalism. Would you show up to an interview in a BBQ stained t-shirt, swim trunks, and flip-flops? Not likely, most would adhere to the proper business attire and present themselves a bit more formally. The same principle applies to writing of all sorts. There is a standard that should always be adhered to if a writer wants to be published and have their work recognized with good feedback. Some circumstances when writers should take advice with a grain of salt gear towards the artsy aspects of writing and less with the technical side. There is a standard that should always be adhered to if a writer wants to be published and have their work recognized with good feedback. Some circumstances when writers should take advice with a grain of salt gear towards the artsy aspects of writing and less with the technical side. If a writer is told for example a piece of advice such as “Writers should always outline” and yet they have always written without needing to do so. Then by all means that writer should do what works for them and their craft. That is just one example. Please always keep in mind that writing is a very technical craft with laws that should not be ignored and at the same time is a very creative outlet with vast amounts of room to make creative decisions that will be best for that piece of work. The balance is a very fine line and writers must use their own judgement about the information they receive.
#5 – Writing dialogue is about replicating human speech as accurately and realistically as possible in every scenario . HINT: NO IT’S NOT!
- If anyone here on my blog has read any of my short stories, then they know I struggle with writing natural and cohesive dialogue for my characters. The above piece of advice irks me to the extreme because it is simply not what I have been taught and honestly the wisdom is highly misleading especially if the writer is just starting out and follows the advice in the most literal of ways. Dialogue serves a number of specific purposes like moving the story along, providing information, character development. There is simply too much mundane speech and conversation people have every day that is boring and meaningless. Writers who follow this advice too closely will wind up with a messy, over-wordy, and boring manuscript filled with useless conversation that does nothing for the story. All dialogue and any word written in a story should have a purpose behind it that grows the characters, plot, setting, and story. It should move the readers along as smoothly as possible and create some value for them. Who wants to read a book filled with endless ” Hello, how are you?” “I am good” “Great” “What did you do today?” “Nothing much” etc etc etc. Please have a point to it all, unless the purpose to make the readers bored to tears. This is not to say that writers shouldn’t be aware of the realism of it all. Create characters that behave in an understandable and natural way. The character’s voice should be realistic and easy to relate with.
Please stay tuned next week for part 2 of writing advice author should reconsider. I look forward to getting that posted as soon as possible! Thank you for reading!
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