When it comes to writing, everyone has their two cents which they are more than happy to give you. People who haven’t written anything creative since the ninth grade when they were forced to by their World Literature teacher will be telling what you should or shouldn’t do and how you should do it.
Since I started writing about seven years ago, I’ve done plenty of research. I’ve read article after article, books, magazines, anything from Writer’s Digest to personal blogs from successful authors. I took it all in. What did I find out? Well,
1) everyone has an opinion
2) the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I believe people on the internet are actually trying to help, I really do, but let’s be honest, no matter what subject we’re talking about, there is a ton of bad advice out there.
The problem with giving advice is that people tend to think if it works for them, it will work for everyone. Unfortunately that is not the case. Even published authors sometimes get set in their own ways, not realizing there is more than one way to write a successful story.
Here’s the thing. There’s good advice out there. But just because it’s good doesn’t mean it’s good for you. So how you do know whether or not the advice is worth taking.
I say give everything a try, as long as it doesn’t blunt your creativity. Maybe it will work for you, maybe it won’t. In seven years I’ve have a lot of failed experiments which I learned from, until I found a method comfortable for me. I’m far from knowing everything there is to writing and am always seeking out advice, but I can say that I’ve learned to take everything with a grain of salt.
Sometimes people are wrong. And that’s it. But you shouldn’t blow off the advice you get because many times it will be helpful. Just don’t take it as gospel.
So what is “good advice”?
Good advice is anything that will help you grow. Sometimes it’s not meant for you, because your a unique individual with your own style, but it’s good to try out the different techniques. Good advice will tell you what you can do, how to do it, and still leave room for you to put your own spin on it. Good advice wants you to be the best you that you can be.
Bad advice will probably give you a list of things not to do, never allow you to expand, and will over complicate everything in your life. For example, I read an article that named all the ways you shouldn’t begin a story. The reason I say it was bad advice was not only because it was subjective (based on the writer’s own person preferences) but because it was so extensive that if left you with virtual only one way to begin a story- the same kind of beginning they used in their book.
How do I find good advice?
Read. Read. Read.
When you’re done reading, try.
Try. Try. Try.
Play around with the different methods and techniques. Try it out a bit here and there. But don’t let anyone take your story and turn it into their own. You’re the author. You have your style and they have theirs. And that’s good. If not the world would be boring.
Just remember when you’re given some advice to keep in mind that person is probably trying to help. Try not to get defensive or dismiss everything they say, you’ll miss a lot of good advice that way. However, don’t take everything too seriously. You’ll find what works for you. Until then, don’t be afraid to try (and fail). You’ll learn a lot from the experience and you might even have a bit of fun on the way.
Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your ownBruce Lee