Should you ignore certain writing tips? I know I have. As with anything in life, you need to weigh and consider what advice you follow. Here are a few tips that should probably be ignored. Or not, you can decide if you wish to. This article is kind of tongue in cheek but still worth the read. Here also is a video of some other bad advice–watch at your own risk😉
Top 10 Pieces of Writing Advice You Should Ignore
Posted on November 17, 2018 by Nathaniel Tower
I had never read any of Jonathan Franzen’s work until I saw his list about how to write like him, or whatever the hell it was. I would link it here, but I don’t want to give him any more attention. But if you haven’t read it, it wasn’t very memorable other than to make him seem like a pretentious jerkwad that I never want to read. It’s certainly not likely to make you a better writer.
Anyway, the one thing Franzen’s list inspired me to do was create my own top ten list of writing advice that isn’t worth a damn thing. Here’s my take on some timeless writing advice as well as some modern hogwash that people try to sell writers:
1. First and foremost, ignore any list that tells you how to write better.
2. Why are you still reading this? I just told you to ignore these lists. This is one of the lists I want you to ignore.
3. Fine, you’re still reading, so I better give you some advice. Ignore anyone who tells you to avoid all adverbs. You also need adjectives and verbs. Nouns are pretty good, too. Use parts of speech. All of them.
4. The internet is a writer’s friend. Ignore anyone who tells you that good writers don’t use it. From research to promotion to community building, it has so many applications for writers. Yes, it can be a distraction, but only if you let it be one.
5. Writing every day is bullshit. It’s okay to take some days off. You don’t have to force it. If you want to write every day, that’s awesome. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Write when you want to write.
6. Self-publishing is cool. So is submitting to tons of agents. And so are lit mags that don’t pay you. Do what works for you and screw anyone who tells you not to do what you’re doing. Anyone who says self-published writers aren’t real writers is a pretentious wad of gum stuck to the bottom of a muddy boot.
7. You don’t need an MFA to be a great or successful writer. Some of the best writers in the world have never formally studied the craft of writing in an academic setting. Some people with MFAs are terrible writers. If you want an MFA because you’re passionate about writing and want to study it deeper in a formal setting, then get one. But don’t do it because you think it’s a prerequisite for making money as a writer.
8. Nothing is unpublishable. If someone says your work is unpublishable, then that just means it isn’t for them. Everything is publishable if you find the right venue. Even really bad writing has its place in today’s world. Just spend a few minutes browsing books on Amazon and that should be pretty obvious.
9. You don’t need to hire a professional editor before sending out your manuscript. It might help. But it might also be a huge waste of money. Instead of going to a professional editor, make sure you’ve revised it thoroughly yourself. After that, try a few beta readers. Do a manuscript swap. They read yours, you read theirs.
10. Wow, I wasn’t prepared for anyone to still be reading this. Enough with the advice. Just go write. The only ways to get better at writing are writing and reading. And when I say reading, I don’t mean reading lists.
There you have it. Obviously not every writing tip should be ignored, but there’s a lot of bad writing advice out there. Bottom line: do what works for you and forget about the rest.