Take My Advice (or Don’t)

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Week #8: Worst writing advice I’ve gotten

Hoo boy, this is a doozy of a topic this week.

First of all, it’s important to remember that all writing advice is just that–advice. And advice is not the same as technicalities, which are the things that are actually the backbone of writing: things like grammar rules and spelling, plot construction, and the parts of a book that make it a whole, like your protagonist and antagonist, conflict, climax, and resolution. Yes, even some of those things can be bent a little, but I seperate those things from the creative part of writing. There’s a difference between how to technically write a book and how to artistically write a book–and it’s the latter we all tend to get advice about the most. The former can be learned.

What works for one author artistically may not work for another. One writer’s style is completely different from another writer’s style, and it would be hard for those two very different writers to give each other creative advice. Even when ‘experts’ dole out advice, take it with a big fat grain of salt. The trendsetters could tell you how books about sharks are gonna be SO huge next year, so you waste all year writing about sharks and then next year everyone’s into dolphins. Advice should be considered, but not necessarily held aloft to the exclusion of everything else.

That being said, a few of the worst pieces of writing advice I’ve ever gotten are:

  • Write what you know. Books would be insanely boring and repetitive if all writers only ever wrote about things they specifically know.
  • Never write about (various taboo subjects). Taboo subjects tend to make controversial books that sell well, because people love controversy. Taboo subjects can also be handled in a respectful manner that sheds light on the reality of the subject.
  • Read everything. Read good books that you like in the genre you want to write in. Also, it’s very easy to fool yourself into thinking if you’re spending all your time reading that’s also writing. You got to do the hard part, too.
  • Write every single day. Anne Rice made a GREAT post on her Facebook about this last week.

But, this is just my advice. Take it or leave it.

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