Writers get a lot of writing advice. Some of it is truly powerful and useful, and some of it is not.
One of the most important things about advice is seeing where it is coming from. It is about knowing what this person wants from you to give you this advice. Good advice is worth its weight in gold, and bad advice can destroy a writing career before it gets off the ground.
What sort of writing advice should a new writer listen to?
All that glitters is gold?
The age old question, should I trust what another writer tells me or should I dismiss it as being not something I need or want to hear?
We’ve all read a lot of book reviews, and this can influence what we read. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has a book recommendation list, as does Oprah, and this can be worth its weight in gold for the lucky authors who get these stellar reviews. Some of the books they pick meet with universal acclaim, whereas others are quickly forgotten the next round of news that comes their way.
There are also the many bloggers who share book reviews, or writing advice in general. These are also people who a new writer should consider listening to. They have been writing, or blogging for many years and most know what they say is right… for them.
What sort of writing advice is worth its weight in gold?
The advice you need the worthy sort of advice is the one that changes your writing for the better. It doesn’t have to be positive, but it has to be honest and true to what you need to do, right then. A good piece of advice doesn’t mean the person who is getting it will like hearing it, but they can do something with it. It might mean a lot of work or it could mean a lot of reflection, and these days we don’t like that part all that much.
For example hearing that your blog posts are too short, too personal, too rambling is better coming from a mentor than it is a peer. Hearing that you come across in a bad light but this is the way to fix it, also helps.
On a personal note, I was one of these new writers, and I felt my writing was great. I felt my blog was doing fine and I believed, wrongly, that all it would take is some minor changes. I was wrong. I was of the mistaken view that what I wrote was good.
One of my long time writing friends also edits other people’s work and she offered, for food and some extra work on my part, to look over several of my older blog posts some years back. I was delighted, I was happy to share this with her. I knew I was going to get some great advice.
Write it, and take some advice.
My problem was this advice was worth more than I wanted to spend. It would mean I would have to go back and rework, and reedit and do a lot more than what I truly wanted to do.
Now, I’m not saying it was the wrong advice, because it wasn’t. What I am saying is that I wasn’t wanting to accept the golden words she had, to make my blog better.
It’s not nice to hear ‘it’s okay, but if you fixed up X, it would make it better.’ It’s even worse when you know that this is exactly what needs to happen. If for example, Oprah had come to my blog and made these suggestions at that time, I still would have been angry.
Got you there didn’t I?
Why because a lot of us don’t want to hear how much we have to improve. Advice is only good if we do something- act on suggestions. Advice can only help us if we want to do the work, and make the effort.
With great reluctance I did as I was asked. I didn’t like doing it, but the progress I did, helped my blog. I was able to see even a small bit of advice helped my blog, and myself, as a writer.
Now, this same writing friend came back about two weeks ago, and looked it over. She was happy for the changes, and she had some more advice. I was happy to take it. There was growth on my part as a writer, I understood the suggestions she offers will only help my blog grow and expand.
Writing advice is worth its weight in gold if the writer in question, such as myself, is willing to take it and build from there. It’s not only about who can help you, but what you are willing to do to get to the point of being happy with receiving more advice.