Five Pieces of Writing Advice to Take With a Grain of Salt

June 1, 2019

 

Writing advice is abundant. There will always be bloggers, writers, Youtubers, podcasters, etc. who will try to bombard you with writing advice. (This includes me!) However, as with all pieces of advice, there are definitely tips you should take with a grain of salt. 

 

First tip: Write every day.

When I first started my writing journey, I took this advice as law. I started a writing chain and committed myself to writing at least fifteen minutes daily. For a while, things were good. I was able to batch blog posts, consistently work on my WIP (work in progress), and draft content for my newsletter. 

However, after a couple of months, writing daily began to seem like a chore. I wrote just to write, and the work I was putting out wasn’t my best. I felt I was forcing creativity, and my work was suffering as a result.

To combat this, I took a step back and only wrote when I was inspired—about three times per week. My writing improved considerably.

Therefore, if you can write daily and consistently produce quality work, then by all means write every day. If you can’t, then don’t. The point is to write. How often or how little is up to you. 

 

Second tip: Show, don’t tell.

I hear this advice so often! While it’s true the majority of the time, there are exceptions to this rule. If you’re transitioning, being redundant, or needing to state something important, then it may be best to simply tell the reader what’s going on.

For more information on showing vs. telling, check out this thread from one of the Write Plan editors on the different functions of both showing and telling.

 

Third tip: Don't read reviews.

I completely understand why this piece of advice exists. Reading negative reviews about something you put your heart and soul into is a horrible feeling. It's even worse if that review causes you to feel like you should stop writing or that your future work will never be good enough.

However, not all reviews are bad reviews. Some can be enlightening or interesting. They show you what your readers think of certain characters and may help you decide which direction to take next.

Also, some criticism can be helpful. If multiple readers are critiquing your grammar, then maybe it’s time to invest in a proper copy editor and proofreader. Or, if multiple readers feel one or more of your characters are flat, it might be best to work on character development a little more as your write your next book or hire a content editor to help you pinpoint and fix these problems.

 

Fourth tip: Write like no one will read your work.

I personally take offense with this statement because deep down, I write with the hope that one day, someone will pick up my book, fall in love with my characters, and be touched. In fact, don’t all of us have the same dream: to publish our book(s)? We want people to read our works. Without proper guidance, many who follow the advice above may produce half-written or subpar work. 

On the other hand, I understand that many writers must write this way in order to write a first draft at all. Therefore, I have only one piece of additional advice: as C.J. Cherryh said, “It is perfectly okay to write garbage as long as you edit brilliantly.” 

 

Fifth tip: Write what you know.

If writers only wrote what they know, we would never have books like Harry Potter, Twilight, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Cinder, and more. I love books that transport me into another world or into the mind of another “being” entirely. When writers use their imagination to create new worlds with unique populations, the results can oftentimes be wonderful. 

However, writing does need to be authentic. If I’ve never participated in a sword fight, then I need to conduct a bit of research before I decide to put my characters in that particular situation. Or, if I’m writing a historical novel, I need to research what my characters likely saw, ate, wore, etc. during that time to do my novel justice. 

 

I hope this blog article was helpful, but remember: even my advice should be taken with a grain of salt. The point is this: trust your process and use all writing advice as a guideline, but not necessarily as a rule. If you have any other suggestions, or additional questions, please leave them in the comments down below. 

 

Happy writing!

 

Jade Young is a writer. You can find her on Twitter at @jadeyoungwrites.

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