There is No “One Size Fits All” Writing Advice


You might think it’s a little weird for someone who spends a lot of their non-writing time giving writing advice to essentially say, “sometimes you should forget about my advice.” But sometimes, you really should forget about my advice.

All writing advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Some of it will be helpful to you. Some of it won’t. Someone might tell you a great way to outline, but you find that it really works better for you to figure out your story as you write a first draft. Someone might tell you to get a literary agent, but maybe self-publishing is the best path for you. Someone might tell you to kill off a certain character or that some particular thing should happen in your story, and that’s just not how your story goes. 

In all of these cases, nod your head and listen to what the person is saying, particularly if they are a professor or a professional writer or someone who has at least read a writing craft book or two. But if their advice doesn’t resonate with you, it might be better to ignore it.

You don’t want to let your mentors or your peers make you second guess everything you do. You don’t want to be one of those writers who tweaks the same short story for ten years. Sometimes you will disagree with your professors, your fellow writers, your critique partners. And that’s okay.

You will know good writing advice when you hear it. Good writing advice makes you think differently about your own writing. It gives you ideas, and it inspires you to write more. It doesn’t stifle your creativity or make you feel bad about yourself as a writer. You will meet some people along your writing journey who just don’t resonate with you. This is because all literature is subjective. Different writers are trying to accomplish different things. For example, an aspiring soap opera writer probably wouldn’t find a workshop on writing literary fiction to be helpful. This doesn’t mean the soap opera writer is any less talented than the literary fiction writer. It means they are trying to accomplish two different things.

You have to figure out what works for you as a writer. This is true of your writing process, this is true of your storytelling, and this is true of your publishing career. There is no “one size fits all” path for every writer. There are as many different ways to write as there are writers. So listen to the advice given to you by others, and by all means, use it if you find it to be helpful. But always, always think for yourself and follow your own path.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *