Helpful advice?

Rant incoming!

Scouring Pinterest tonight (which has been tailored particularly to me by over a year of browsing) I came across a score of writing pins. Here are some of the titles;

10 mistakes you don’t want to make when writing your first book
7 plot cliches to avoid
12 rules of grammar in writing
The 9 things I wish I knew before writing
Find time to write every single day
Only write when inspiration hits
Make your story original
Stick to well-known genres
Do this
Don’t do that

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Ugh. To be honest I’m damn well sick of it. The incongruent, inconsistent advice that makes me doubt and second-guess myself and my work.

I believe it’s time to stop reading writing advice and go my own way… before I doubt myself right out of writing.

What say you all? Is there such a thing as too much advice? And how do you reconcile the advice that contradicts other advice?

42 thoughts on “Helpful advice?

  1. I actually collect writing handbooks, and my survival rule is quite simple: all advice is good but is and remains advice. It’s good to find out what tools are available in the writer’s toolbox, but then I decide what to do and what tools I’ll use for the job.
    And I second the motion about classics: as a guy once said “the best writing handbook is a cheap second hand paperback of a Penguin classic – any title will do”.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Challenge successfully finished last Sunday night – 43000+ words in 7 days, the last two of which were heavy.
        Now the novel is resting before I revise it and hand it over to the betas.
        Tiring, but fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If I stumble across some advice that resonates – particularly a specific thing that addresses a problem I have already identified – then I may try it and see if it works. But if you’re feeling okay about your writing don’t go looking for solutions to things that might be ‘wrong’ with it – that’s like reading medical websites and turning yourself into a hypochondriac.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I believe the process for learning a craft is universal. You start off with a lot of self doubt, and look outside yourself for guidance. Along the way you gather copious amounts of advice, some good and some bad. You will second guess yourself, and ask ” is this right for me”. If you are authentically doing what you love, then you will persevere, and continue along this path and get better at your craft. There is no guarantee you will become wealthy, but wealth is not the defining reason most people do what they enjoy. When things don’t seem like the are going well, believe in yourself, that you can push through the pain,and continue on.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. One downside of social media is that everyone can be a self-declared expert, and the hunger for followers encourages people to do just that. But offering advice isn’t the same thing as actually knowing something. So choose your experts carefully. And be careful even with advice from good and experienced writers. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.

    And yes–read. Read lots. Classics, non-classics, milk cartons, whatever. You can learn from bad books as well as good ones–what you don’t want to do, for one thing. And sometimes a bad book will let you notice technique in a way a better one doesn’t, because you don’t get as lost in the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For a long time I struggled with advice. As you say, there is so much of it, and most is geared towards more or less, “be more unique” vs “recognize the # plot patterns that run through every story”, etc.
    What really made things tricky was when I started reading a piece of advice, and realizing that somewhere along the way I’d read something else that, according to my memory, disagreed rather strongly. But for the life of me I could not remember exactly what the earlier article had said.

    So I decided to start taking notes. Over time that grew into an ongoing writing project, writing theories and techniques. At first it was just a way of remembering what I’d learned, but over time it became a way of making sense of everything. Instead of simply jotting down what others have said, I try to incorporate it into the appropriate section, putting it into my own words. In the process I sometimes do come across sections of text that contradict each other, and I try to reconcile the different views. Sometimes I choose what I believe is true, but more often I qualify “when to use lavish descriptions” or “focus on the dialogue, leaving the setting vague and undefined.”

    Of course I also think it’s important to budget and balance one’s time. There were times where I really believed I should focus on study, learn what I needed, and then focus on actually writing my stories. Of course, once again, there is far too much for that to work, and there’s always more to learn. These days I like to track my time, and make sure that at least a small portion of writing time is dedicated to actual writing, and the same goes for reading and considering the ideas of others.

    Sometimes storytelling can feel rather daunting, the absurd ambition to be “a writer”, but by the same token it’s also a life’s work, something I can pursue without ever reaching an end, and I think that’s marvelous.

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    1. You should market this “Sometimes storytelling can feel rather daunting, the absurd ambition to be “a writer”, but by the same token it’s also a life’s work, something I can pursue without ever reaching an end, and I think that’s marvelous.” – epic.
      Did you ever think about publishing your collected hints and tips? I know there’s lots out there (case in point what prompted my rant in the first place), but you have a really nice way of cutting through the BS and summarizing effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. That is very kind, and flattering. At the moment I feel that my understanding of writing is still somewhat unbalanced. There are aspects I feel I have a firm grasp of, but others still feel vague and murky to me.

        Beyond that there’s also the fact that I’m an unknown, and there are many authors offering their own take on the question “how to write”.

        I actually started blogging in an effort to both put my theories and technique project to work for me, and perhaps refine it through dialogue with others. Eventually I think I will unite it into something publishable, but in the words of another writer “If you can’t sell it, give it away.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. That is actually one of the areas where I need to develop a bit more.
        On the whole I’m rather proud of Write Thoughts, particularly the navigation. I’m always impressed by blogs that include a nice index or list of entries, so that I can easily peruse their entire library.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Writing advice is so subjective because every writer is different. Great post! I’m a fellow writer who’s new to blogging, and am very impressed by your blog. I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers such as myself.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The only tips are just to write from the heart and really know what you want to achieve from your blog. Ask yourself why am I blogging and write to answer that question. Or just make rude jokes and use funny images. 😏

      Liked by 1 person

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