Writing is one of my great passions. I enjoy putting to pen historical articles, short-stories, and book reviews. The rough draft of my very first book titled Women Of War is almost complete! Today’s post will be covering questionable advice writers are given that have been floating around.
I feel some of it needs a bit of revision and an entirely new perspective. So please hear me out! For starters, it is only fair to say the reason I have such an interest in this is because as a writer in need of improvement, all this advice is always on my radar. This will be focusing on what I’ve found didn’t quite sit well or work for me. Others might find this to be the opposite.
Please take everything in stride and always put what fits you the best first. I am also very interested in what writing advice do others in the community have that might help others out or do you know of any terrible ones that you wish would go extinct? Tell me about it in the comments below!
#1: Writers should read everything they can get their hands on, including stuff they know is terrible or that they will hate and 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. Read what you love!
#2: Writers should write every day…
There is nothing wrong with this piece of advice. It’s a great one to try and follow; however, it’s not always very reasonable. Many of us have full-time jobs, careers to fulfill, and school to attend. These must come first. Most of us have family, friends, and children to care for that need looking after.
Writing on a daily basis is not always going to happen and although the advice is excellent in theory, it is not always realistic. This has to be okay for writers. We each need to find what works for us and our own individual routine. 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 achieved in many different ways such as watching a quick writing video for tips on something you’re stuck with. Videos can help with basic knowledge towards the goals of becoming an accomplished writer.
Another option is when writers have a few minutes, like a break at work, they can read writing articles on their phone. Productivity can be found in a lot of ways. Writers can always be jotting down quick ideas or notes running through their brain in those limited free moments. Get creative!
#3: Don’t start big by writing novels. Begin with 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 this logic was something I was following for a few years as I struggled to develop my writing skills through short stories, poetry, blogging, and practice. This advice is something I really dislike now because it’s plain out wrong.
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. Writers become better writers by just simply writing.
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 and follow their writing hearts without fear!
Go big right off the bat is what I heartedly recommend. There is no point in not doing so and it will help any writer learn through experience. Practice and writing are what will make those skills improve and become perfect. Never stunt growth by limiting yourself as a writer because of fear or insecurity. If you want to write a book, then not feeling ready is no excuse.
Dive right in! Only good things can come from making the jump. A writer can learn quite a lot by writing a terrible novel or many of them rather than never trying. Holding back because of the anxiety will only serve to stall progress and cost the writer experiences they would have had otherwise.
#4: Take all writing advice with a grain of salt…
This one is actually a bit more complicated than what is implied. There are many circumstances when this advice shouldn’t be followed and plenty of times when it is okay to take it to heart so that the writer can have their own voice. 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 creative aspects of writing and less with the technical side. If a writer is told for example that “authors must always make an extensive outline before starting” 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. Screw outlining if it doesn’t fit. 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. There is a lot out there!
#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 has read my short stories, then they know I struggle with writing cohesive dialogue for my characters. The above advice irks me to the extreme because it’s simply not what I have been taught and the wisdom is highly misleading especially if given to a new writer just starting out.
This advice could be taken in the most literal of ways. Dialogue serves a number of specific purposes like moving the story along, providing critical information, and vital character development. There is simply too much mundane speech and conversations people have daily that are extremely meaningless. That type of conversation is boring and shouldn’t be included!
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 words written in a story really 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.
Please have a point to what you write, 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.
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