Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Writing Advice Can Often Be Toxic to Writers . . .


I remember when “personal” computers were beginning to appear—when every kid on the block started to become an “expert”—when you could easily trash your shiny, new computer by listening to the wrong people… 

I also remember when publishing books became easier for an individual—when every creative-type started to become a book-guru—when you could easily ruin your tender, longing hopes by listening to the wrong people

Computers have become a bit more robust.

Writing gurus are breeding like rabbits.

I’ve written 57 previous posts that all have something to do with writing advice (if you take that link, you’ll also find this post since I used the same tags…).

Many of those posts caution against certain types of writing advice—some offer what I consider good advice.

I’ll give a few examples of the kind of advice you might want to avoid; then, share a couple links that could, in my opinion, help

There are many ways writing advice can be sincerely given yet still be potentially harmful.

The most common type to avoid (though, I’ve read many and still haven’t been corrupted) are the ones that have a number in the title (apparently, folks who don’t like to work hard to learn something are quite attracted to numbered lists and way too many bloggers share lists in hopes of generating more traffic… [I’ve committed this “sin” myself a few times]).

Here are three examples:

Janet Fitch’s 10 Rules for Writers

22 Rules of Successful Storytelling (infographic)

Improving Your Fiction: 246 Rules from 28 Modern Writers

If you actually read those articles, you may find many tips ( or, “rules” ) that indeed help you in your writing; however

Learning to write by learning lists of “rules” can easily lead to stilted, contrived, or unnatural writing.

You can make a list of things to buy at the grocery store and make the effort to go there and get all the ingredients; but, they need to be combined properly—you must have a “grand plan” for your cooking to produce a great meal

It’s laughingly ironic to me that my all-time favorite writer of novels, C. J. Cherryh, actually produced a list called Writerisms and other Sins.

Yet, the final tip in that list was NO RULE SHOULD BE FOLLOWED OFF A CLIFF.

Perhaps the best advice I could give to writers is, if you feel you must read lists of tips, please do yourself a huge favor and devour a story from an accomplished writer for every single tip you ingest

And, if you just have to read a whole book of writing advice (and, you intend to write a novel), check out this article—Ever Wondered How An Author Actually Writes A Novel?

One last bit of writing advice:

Go read this articleHow To Read Like A Writer.
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Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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To Leave A Comment, Use The Link At The Top-Right of The Post :-)
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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4 responses to “Writing Advice Can Often Be Toxic to Writers . . .

  1. MarinaSofia August 14, 2015 at 2:37 pm

    I used to devour all these articles and books when I first started out writing (or came back to it after a long, long break), but now I’ve given up on them. No one else can do the work for me. I want to read to be inspired – and some authors write beautifully even about the process of writing. But yes, it’s usually not the ones who write only in lists…

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai August 14, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      I’m in complete agreement with you, Marina…

      Like

  2. Nicole August 17, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    I have a hard time swallowing the idea of an ‘expert’. It’s hard for me to believe anyone can know everything about anything. Know what I mean?
    Happy Monday, Alex. ♥

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai August 17, 2015 at 4:22 pm

      I know exactly what you mean, Nicole—and, Happy Monday to you, too :-)

      Like

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