Writers spend a lot of time sharing advice and knowledge with each other; giving ourselves a new perspective or insight into another’s writing process, or even finding our own way by trying something new. I’ve received some really great advice about writing, and some really awful advice. Here is some of the best, and the worst writing advice I’ve encountered:
#1. Write regularly:
This is such an essential piece of advice, and it’s difficult to see its true worth until you actually write every single day. It used to feel like a fight for me to sit down at the computer and write, when I wasn’t feeling “inspired”. By following this advice, to write regularly, every single day, whether I was feeling inspired or not, I have realized how little good writing has to do with inspiration, and how much more it has to do with discipline.
#2. Read Regularly:
Good writers are first, and foremost good readers. I’ve always enjoyed reading, but I’ve enjoyed it all the more since I started writing seriously. I find inspiration and insight in the words of others, and my own writing has been greatly enhanced by exposing myself to as many different kinds of writing as possible. As I discussed in greater detail here, reading makes writers even more creative!
Good writing will never be great writing, until it is edited. Editing is an essential part of the writing process and is too often ignored. It can be difficult to have something you’ve written torn apart by editing, but ultimately, this is what makes your writing the best it can be. Editing is the part that hurts the most, but it’s also the part that will most improve your writing.
#1. ‘Write what you know’:
This is probably the advice that I hear most frequently, and I find that, when taken literally, it’s terrible advice. If I constrained myself to write only about what I know, my novels would be exceptionally boring. Writing gives me the opportunity to imagine things that don’t exist, and much of the world in my Elden Forest series is completely fictitious.
I think a better way to phrase this piece of advice would be: ‘write what you value’. All writers put pieces of themselves into their writing; characters we aspire to be, adventures we wish we had. Our core principles, and values; those things we hold most dear, often appear in our writing, as they should. In my view, ‘write what you value’ is a far more realistic piece of advice.
#2. Advice with absolutes:
This is a more general point, but whenever I hear advice that includes an absolute (like ‘never’, or ‘always’) it’s a big red flag for me. There are very few absolutes in life, and advising people to ‘never’ or ‘always’ do anything, is foolish, and frankly, a little naive. An endeavor like creative writing is exceptionally personal, and what doesn’t work for you, may work beautifully for someone else. There’s no need to tell someone that a rule is ‘set in stone’, because for that writer, it may not be.
What is the best (or worst!) writing advice you’ve encountered? Tell me in the comments below!
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