Tag Archives: help

Writing and the perils of advice.

The deafening sound of thousands of writers, creatives and others talking directly and noisily out of their asses. That is how I would generally sum up writing blogs, this one included.

Advice, even from the very best and most qualified or sources, is bullshit. Or at least it is in part. It may be well intentioned bullshit and it might well even be tried and tested bullshit, but as far as you as an aspiring writer are concerned you are best off taking it all with anything from a pinch to a whole 18-wheeler full of salt.

Let me make this completely clear so there can be no misunderstanding of my point: no matter who is giving the advice and in whatever form it comes, no-one’s advice will be anything more than another person’s opinions, and we all know what they say about opinions, don’t we?

Don’t we? No? Well… You’re a writer. Bloody make something up.

One person’s experience colours their own view just as your own will colour yours. It’s inescapable but none of us can claim to be truly objective when it comes to writing, what works and what doesn’t work, even in areas where we may have a great deal of common ground.

We each have prejudices and preferences that have grown organically from how our own time as writers has gone and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering that a lot of the advice givers will be trying to save some other poor bastard from negative experiences they may have gone through on their way to wherever they are. That’s a good thing, finding a little altruism in a competitive industry. Relish it. Read it and soak it up, but never forget that pinch of salt.

All you can do is approach advice in the same way you would approach any other form of research, assuming you want to do it properly of course. You need several reliable and qualified sources, never, ever take just one and accept it as gospel. If you’re in a bind and want a solution, ask two or more people or sources before throwing yourself at the nearest easy answer. Don’t immediately assume that someone who has been in your position has had the same journey as you have. All of our points of origin are a little different, we take different routes at different speeds and have different, though often similar, destinations. Don’t make the mistake that a coincidence is a direct reflection of your own issues when you can’t be certain of how the other person arrived there.

Just because our paths sometimes intersect for one fleeting moment, that doesn’t mean any one of us has all the answers.