Take that advice and shove it

Writing advice is a great blessing…if only it wasn’t so contradictory. The more I read advice from the Greats, the more confused I become. Check out this assembly of quotes: http://www.buzzfeed.com/expresident/writing-advice-from-famous-authors

Did you see the one from F. Scott Fitzgerald? “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.”

Then, right after, comes Neil Gaiman with: “Laugh at your own jokes.”


Then, G.K. Chesterton warns us against taking advice at all: “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then doing the exact opposite.”

But, is this true? Does advice in writing always contradict itself? Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. Here are a few takes from those in the know.

Ygor H. Speranza wrote this really good post warning authors against twisting themselves into a pretzel trying to follow all that contradictory advice out there. https://medium.com/thoughts-on-creativity/68827ff87151

Kate DiCamillo wrote these ones on how to survive all that contradictory advice. Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4

Nathan Bransford wrote about conflicting query advice in this post: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2010/09/how-to-deal-with-contradictory-query.html.

I do think Nathan Bransford sums it up pretty well. Writing is an art, not a science. In math, 4 + 4 will always give us 8, but in writing there’s no such thing as a magical formula for success…or is there? What do you think?

P. S. Just in case you think this entire rant is baseless and love writing advice, here are Cassandra Clare’s amazing self-help tips! 🙂  http://www.cassandraclare.com/writing-advice/

10 thoughts on “Take that advice and shove it

  1. Reblogged this on The Writing Catalog and commented:
    I’ve gotten a lot of good out of writing advice over the years, I think. But I do agree that it can be contradictory and confusing at times. The trick for me is to take the advice that works for whatever you’re doing, that solves a specific problem, or shows you a way to address a weakness in your writing. Don’t follow advice just because it’s offered by someone who’s more successful. Be as skeptical of writing advice as you would be of any other – evaluate it, decide whether it’s helpful to you or not, and act accordingly. (Nice headline, by the way).

  2. I totally agree with writing being an art and that’s why everyone just has to follow their own ‘rules’. Art always begins as a very personal process and if other people are able to engage with it and enjoy it, that’s brilliant, but the main thing has to be that the artist can hold their head up and look at what they created with pride. Great post! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Top 10 posts for March | Taylor Grace

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