Writing Advice – Should You Take It Or Leave It?

By on October 8, 2018
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When it comes to writing, there are thousands of pieces of advice out there. While on the one hand, this is fantastic, it can also get a little bit confusing.

Whether you believe writing talent is something you are born with or something you can acquire, no writer can deny that there is room for them to learn and grow. But trying to sift through the vast jumble of writing rules and lessons to learn, only then to be told something contradictory or that there ‘are no rules’ in the next piece of advice we come across can understandably leave many writers tearing their hair out.

So should we dismiss writing advice altogether? Or is there a way to sift through it all and only find the good, stuff, the advice that really works?

Here are some things to try:

Do what works for you

Every writer has to make their own choices when it comes to writing advice. If something seems entirely unnatural to you or doesn’t work for your writing it’s OK to reject it. Not every piece of advice out there is going to fit into your unique creative mold, and you shouldn’t try to force it otherwise you run the risk of ruining what you had and feeling as though you haven’t stayed true to yourself at the same time.

Don’t get confused

When trying to learn more about the writing craft, it can be so easy to get confused with all the different pieces of writing advice out there. However, it’s important not to panic or get confused and try to employ two contradicting pieces of advice in your work at once. When reading advice, always take a moment to think about whether it truly inspires you, and if so only then work out how you can apply it to your writing. The advice should bend and mold around you and your work, not the other way around.

Remember, art is subjective

Not everyone will like the way you write. Art is subjective, and as a by-product of that, writing advice becomes subjective too. If you don’t like or disagree with a piece of writing advice that’s OK - someone else may find it incredibly useful, and that’s OK too. All parts of writing are unique, and that the subjectivity of human perception is what makes writing so rich, varied and exciting.

In writing, continual improvement is essential, but there are no hard and fast rules. Think of pieces of writing advice as guidelines and be prepared to abandon what doesn’t work for you. You’ll find some great parts that genuinely resonate with you and you know you can work into your writing. Good writing is not achieved by being original, creative, honest and smart, not by sticking to a specific set of objectives, and whether you decide to follow writing advice or not, that’s well worth remembering.

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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