Sometimes bad advice for writers comes from the best of intentions.
In this episode, Cheri Caddick joins me again to help us out of the spots we writers get into when we receive bad advice. Cheri and I discuss how some advice can be downright mean at one point in our writing life and perfect at another. We also provide some of the Best Advice we’ve heard and/or have given along the way – just because … we can’t leave you on the sour side!
How can you identify Bad Advice for Writers?
Advice that contains “always, should or must” is usually a flag that something sticky is coming your way. Broad stroke or generalized statements like this can come with horrible side effects for a writer. Many writers we know are good enough at thinking they’re not good enough, or don’t do enough, or don’t know enough without any additional help from others. Statements that contain these flag words often end up creating more judgment and creative lockdown for writers.
And not necessarily bad but …. Advice that comes from non-writers is definitely something to take with an extra moment of consideration. You might want to consider dissecting the information to see if there is something useful for you.
So what are some examples of Bad Advice for Writers?
Write every day.
While in theory this isn’t bad advice, it can create a bit of a creative block. It’s good advice if you are in the early stages of writing and desire to create a habit (or practice). It’s horrible advice if you are well into your craft. Let’s face it, everyone needs a day off. Writers especially need time to go explore, play, and rest. How can you receive inspiration if you’re not out experiencing and observing life?
Give yourself a break. Be consistent. And try not to add more ways to judge your practice.
Set a duration or word count target for your writing.
I almost wrote that this could be good advice … similar to writing every day … but honestly if you’re going to take the advice of #1 or #2 here, take #1. Write for as long as you can write. Some days that will be 10 minutes and other days it could be hours. Write what you can, when you can.
Keep things a certain length e.g. blog posts 500 words and no less than 250 pages for a book.
This is really good advice if you are submitting your work for consideration to publishers who have requirements for length (or if you’re writing a post for Twitter). However, this rule can be broken almost any other time!
Cheri recommends that we learn what our audience prefers and write for that. I’ll also add here to write until your story is told – the editing process will determine how long your end product really is.
Listen to the episode to hear our discussion around other bad advice such as: disregard the critics, and good writers break the rules. You’ll also hear the WORST ADVICE EVER for a writer! Cheri’s response and the discussion around it are certainly lively! Remember, there’s good advice for writers in here too.
Special shout out to some great writing groups on Facebook who contributed their thoughts on this topic: