Some Writing Advice IS NOT Worth Listening To. . .

Thursday, January 08, 2009

When I did my survey of writers for my last post on Dec. 31, I also asked them, "What is the worst writing advice you have ever heard?" I thought this question's results were important enough to share with The Muffin readers by themselves (and not with the rest of my best of/worst of list)! I know you have heard some of these lines before--I had, and I have even listened to them. I just pray that I never told anyone these "words of advice." Of if I did, they were smart enough NOT to follow my tips. I racked my brain trying to remember if when I taught a community writing class at the YMCA on writing for children, did I say, "Write what you know?" I hope not. I've blocked it from my memory. :)

So, here we go. . .

Worst Writing Advice:

  • The old standard “write what you know.” If I followed that advice, I would never need to research, and it would severely limit the scope of what I write (4 writers) (Many people added GOOD ADVICE to this one: Write what you are interested in or you can research!)
  • Put page stops on all pages in your manuscript. HUH?
  • Make changes to a manuscript that changed my voice.
  • For me, the worst writing advice I heard is from a successful (with very narrow, limited vision) genre writer trying to hammer a promising literary or mainstream writer into a genre slot "because genre is easier to sell." That hat is not one size fits all.
  • Write a Book in 14 Days or Less Guaranteed: Use a timer that goes off every 5 minutes and then you're done with that section of the book. It totally shatters the flow of the story and eliminates all spontaneity.
  • I have the right way that you should write. Follow my plan, and you will be a successful writer.
  • Forget being published, big houses are only interested in big names. Be happy with writing letters.
  • There is only one way to write a book.

So, do you have any more? Please share with us because NONE of us want to follow bad writing advice this year, and we need to start early in January on the right path!

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill

Read These Books and Use Them (blog)

photo by nyki_m on


Anonymous said...

What a nice post! This really made me smile:)What I can say is that, it wouldn't hurt if you will listen to those advices. But, be sure to weigh things first before actually following their advices. When it comes to writing research papers, I follow my own instincts. I may not be always right those committed mistakes makes me the best writer that I am today.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, thanks! I should print these out, but my bulletin board is COVERED.

Unknown said...

In this article, I'll share some advice on novel writing that I've picked up in the process of publishing over a dozen books. These three fiction writing tips are not organized in any particular hierarchy. All of them are equally important.

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