So here I am, sitting in a pile of Dove mini-chocolate wrappers and weighing the advice I’ve been given. In case you’re allergic to chocolate and thus unfamiliar, Dove includes a message with each mini. They’re like fortune cookies, but less wise and more chocolatey.
“Make the first move.”
“Take a run on the wild side.”
“Give someone a compliment.”
Done. (No, I didn’t compliment myself. My kiddo is in the room so I complimented him.)
“Walk to the beat of your own tuba.”
Nobody wants to see that.
And I’m out of chocolate.
Taking advice on writing can feel like eating a bag of chocolates and being left in a pile of wrappers. What do you do with this stuff? Throw it away? Keep it? Is it all just cliché and subjective anyway?
Here’s a few thoughts on sifting through advice about writing:
- Trust the professionals. If the advice is coming from a reputable source like Writer’s Digest, the Writer’s Market, an agent that rejected your work but shared thoughts on future submissions, or SCBWI give it your full attention. These are professionals who share your passion for excellent work.
- Get in a writing group. Not all of them are the same. I am in two groups with different focal points, and they’re both valuable. Connecting with other writers will expand your worldview and improve your craft. You may even make some friends along the way.
- Pay attention to what resonates with you. When it comes to family, friends, and other encouragers in your life, some people will have insight you may not see. This kind of advice often comes from left field, but when it hits, pay attention. Here’s a few examples from my life of advice that is not for everyone but has been valuable for me.
“You are a poet.”
See? Not for everyone. A friend told me this – not after reading my work, but after I gave relationship advice to a mutual friend. I saw a metaphor, and she saw a poet. It resonated.
This one’s from my final conversation with my grandma last summer. That’s all I can share without crying.
“Go screw up your life for awhile.”
This is a great example of advice that’s not for everyone. Then again, a college professor gave me this advice around the time I was graduating, and it was exactly what I needed. He said to make the mistakes. Gain the experience. Don’t be afraid to fail. Since I was the kid who really wanted to get it “perfect” all the time, this was perfect advice for me.
Because I can’t give you chocolates, let me leave you with some advice. At the end of the day, be who you are and do what jazzes you. And, of course, invent your story.
Britney Dillon is the leader of one writing group I attend. She would advocate good writers are also good readers. Check out her blog at: https://bookaneerbarnacles.blogspot.com