As a writer I am usually open to tips, tricks and techniques to make my writing better. I have read tons of blog posts, newsletters, articles and books to improve my work. I have even taken a class or two.
With that being said, I have observed a trend of common and/or popular advice that I have chosen to ignore. I understand well intentioned advice is not hard rules. Rather writing advice is just that, advice. You can take it or leave it. I have been a writer for many, many years and over time I have learned new and better ways to hone my craft. So, here are 5 popular pieces of writing advice I choose to ignore and you probably should too.
1. You Must Write Everyday
This standard writing advice I have heard since day one. It implies if you don’t do it you are not a real writer. You are a fake, fraud and not serious about your craft. But really, is there anything you do daily without fail? I am not sure about you but there is little I do everyday with no missteps. Well, maybe brush my teeth, take a bath and eat something. Everything else is up in the air. It is like life—it ebbs and flows. I am flexible. If I choose to write everyday it is because I am on a strict deadline or am excited to do it.
2. You Must Guard Your Writing Time
I used to be a strict type A personality. I had my whole day mapped out in ink not pencil. I made little room for changes to my schedule. I was serious about time management. I treated my writing time the same way. But as I just mentioned life happens and I quickly learned to bend.
With this drill sergeant mentality writing became a chore and no longer fun. I have a passion and love for the written word. So, when these rigid feelings start creeping in I take a break. I make room for mid-day chats with friends, a nap or even a movie. I don’t hold fast to a a particular writing routine. My Time can be derailed but I don’t get stressed out about it anymore.
3. You Must Soldier Through Until Done
This advice might work in other areas of your life like exercising, cleaning the house or paying bills. However, writing is a creative venture. So, if you are tired, sleepy, not motivated the words won’t always come. We must accept creative burnout and replenish our inspiration.
Have you ever gone hard on a writing assignment? Then exhausted afterward? Sometimes our bodies and minds are tired so stop writing. Listen and take care of yourself.
Or maybe you are trying to force a piece of writing when it is obviously not working? I’ll be the first to raise my hand and answer yes to this one. Many times I have wanted so badly to make a piece of writing work only to be frustrated, disappointed and weary. I was resistant to stopping and going in a different direction or scrapping it all together. It communicated I was a failure and I was unwilling to accept that. But I have come to realize it is just the writing gods dropping me a hint to be open to change.
4. You Must Use Traditional Sources
You know what I am talking about. Using those same tried and true sources to get your inspiration or resources. Writing prompts, best selling writing books, writing magazines or newsletters. The list goes on and on. I am not saying to stop using those sources because they have real value. Instead I am saying open yourself to other possibilities. I am a content creator so I embrace all kinds of sources. I have found writing ideas in the most unlikely places, talking to interesting people or reading unusual things. Even reading about a frog inspired me to write.
For example, one of Mine is the National and International Daily Calendars. These calendars are chalked full of remarkable, funny and quirky holidays. They are not a traditional writing tool but offer events I can write about. March 3 is International Writers Day. This observation inspired me to write this very post you are reading. Bear in mind places of inspiration will change over time as you personally grow and change. You will notice sources that worked before won’t work today. Be willing to adjust to this new discovery.
5. Basic Writing Rules Can Be Broken
There are some writing rules I don’t break. This is where I stand firm because I am a professional writer. My writing is not just for fun but employment. So, I’m serious about the work I put out in the world. People are reading what I write and I believe in social responsibility. Words have power.
Those standard writing rules of sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, editing and staying true to my voice I don’t compromise. When you slack off on these traditional writing rules your work will loose its impact and power.
I have shared my writing advice to ignore. Now it’s your turn. What are some writing advice you have avoided? Why do you choose to ignore it?