by Jill Williamson
There's a lot of writing advice out there. It can be confusing, and sometimes contradicting. How can you know what is good advice and what is bad?
When I first started writing, I drank advice like water. Any feedback I received, I obeyed. I was so eager to improve, I often edited my voice right out of my stories. Even today, it's sometimes a challenge not to fall back on that bad habit.
Sometimes you hear advice and you just know it's good. It's obvious. It gives you the "Well, duh!" moment. Other times, advice can leave you confused and conflicted. If you can relate to this, keep these things in mind.
When you get advice on your writing, do nothing. Take a few days or weeks to think it over. Time will give you a better perspective.
2. Ask someone else.
You can't take a poll every time you receive advice you don't like, but asking your critique partners what they think can often give you a better perspective. If one person points out something you disagree with, so what? But if the vast majority of people point out that same thing, you'd be wise to listen.
3. Decide for yourself.
Sure, we all start out confused. And we struggle, learning to show and tell, and all the other writing "rules." But at some point, we've learned the rules. And once we've learned them, we're allowed to break them if we want. We get to the point where we have to trust our gut. That doesn't mean we won't make mistakes. That doesn't mean we no longer need critique partners or editors. And that definitely doesn't mean we should stop learning. I will always make errors and I must continue to learn more and better my craft. But I also trust that I can tell a story. I might not do it like the majority of writers. But I am Jill. And Jill must tell stories her way. So must you. So start trusting yourself!
Do you struggle with knowing which writing advice is correct? How do you deal with this?
(I'm still in Arizona. I likely won't be able to answer comments until the weekend, but please comment anyway!)