On Advice, Take Two

I’m gonna piggy back on Elizabeth’s post, mostly to agree (surprise!) but also to play devil’s advocate (that’s more like it).

There is a metric ton of writing advice out there. Some of it’s good. Some of it’s bad. I totally agree that so-called “bad” advice can be “good” and vice-versa. “You have to write everyday?” Probably good advice. It gets your butt in the chair, gets words on the page, both of which are good habits to have. This advice is bad, though, if it makes you sacrifice every other joyful thing in your life to do it. It’s bad if it makes you feel like a loser if you skip one day because you allowed yourself to take the night off have a doctor’s appointment. Any advice that has an all-or-nothing approach (You HAVE to do this! You absolutely CAN’T do this!) is probably advice to either avoid or modify.

My devil’s advocate moment? I’m one of those “if you can quit, quit” people, mostly for my own sanity. A lot of times this business is sort of shitty. Art is subjective. Editors make seemingly arbitrary decisions. For every 10 people who like your work there’s at last one who doesn’t … and it’s that one person’s opinion that hits home. It’s an emotional rollercoaster full of joy and insecurity and excitement and disappointment. If you don’t have the driving urge to write and tell stories and entertain people, finding another avenue for your creative energy might be better for your emotional and mental health. As they say, though, your mileage may vary. Finding joy in the journey (and not just the elusive destination) is a worthy (some might say necessary) goal on its own.

Probably the best advice I’ve ever received? Write what makes you want to write more.

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