Conflicting Writing Advice? Whom Should You Trust?

Conflicting Writing Advice? Whom Should You Trust?

Conflicting Writing Advice? Whom Should You Trust?


“Advice is the one thing that is freely given away, but watch that you only take what is worth having.”

George S. Clason writes this in the business parable “The Richest Man in Babylon.”

Lots of people are willing to give you advice. It’s free. Lots of people seek free advice for the same reason: it’s free.

But is that free advice really free?

A lot of people at recent writers’ conferences came to me confused about the conflicting advice that they’d heard from the stage. Different writers had different opinions on how to start a novel, how to use dialogue, how to submit for publication…and on and on it went.

Why does this happen? Where does all this conflicting advice come from?

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you’ll know I don’t toss around advice willy-nilly as so many others do.



Let’s take a closer look at this scenario by hopping into one of my favorite things: the analogy.

Let’s suppose you go to a friend and say “my relationship’s in trouble,” and that friend says “you should definitely leave.”

You decide to listen to your friend and leave the relationship.

All you really wanted was for your Sweet Honey to clean up the dirty dishes after eating–and now Honeykins is history.

What happened?

1) You got advice from the wrong source. You should always go to someone who is an expert in your field if you want serious advice.

2) More importantly here: the advice-giver didn’t listen to what it was that you needed, or ask about your unique situation. They simply threw out a solution without considering what might apply to your unique situation, needs, and goals.

Reason number two is the exact reason you don’t see me flinging around random platitudes and advice, because to stay in my integrity, to truly serve you and your goals to write a publishable piece, I take the time to listen, to read your work, and to apply the vast years of writing and publishing experience to your actual individual project.

Lots of speakers and people who advise writers out there just want to look smart, or seem like they know what they’re talking about, or want to be liked. These are nice motives, but at the end of the day my duty is to serve you and help you to learn to write to increase your chances of publishing at the highest level for you, the very best level to meet your goals and dreams.

I can’t do that without listening, and integrating YOU into the solution.

Any of you who have asked a question this group know this to be true of me, that I practice what I preach because I asked you a lot of questions before I talk to you about where you should go next.

Following advice that is not specific to your novel, genre, and specific goals can spell disaster–as it has for so many would-be authors who came before us.

This kind of impersonal advice is confusing, overwhelming, and has caused many writer to quit.


If you want to talk to me about your specific project, your goals for it and how you can get there, book yourself into my calendar here: Let’s get you some specific results related to your actual novel, and your individual goals and dreams.

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

Three Must-Know Guidelines to the Writer’s Life

6c42527a-57b7-47ff-85a4-aa55347e5fb21) Writing is an art. Although many writers will pay the bills with technical writing or designing social media posts, they are still artists. Art is about experiences, emotions, forms, and substance. Many people can write a grammatically correct sentence. But the writer will know that sometimes you start a sentence with a conjunction such as but because it sounds better. (See what I did there?)

The writer will spend hours agonizing over one line of dialogue or tearing through a thesaurus not looking for a word, but the right word. (See more about that here.) A true writer seeks the right adjectives to convey the reader’s or character’s feelings, and will make the reader feel exactly what emotions they are trying to share. Through painstaking nit-picking diction, that writer will show, not tell the raw human experience. (Remember, the Rules of Writing are Nothing Like the Rules of Real Life.) Great art takes time and practice to produce and writing is no exception.

2) One of the great writing adages is “write what you know.” We’ve all heard it, however, that doesn’t mean the writer can’t expand the breadth of what you know and care about. Brush up on your history for inspiration. Read the science and technology section of a newspaper to gain ideas of what the future can hold. Go to a place you’ve never been before– or even more daring talk to a stranger. Travel. Learn to dance. Weed plants out of the garden. Want your writing to be a pleasure to read? Create a piece that you loved to write.

3) The only writer you need to be is yourself. Write with your own voice. While it’s fun to try on the voices of authors we love, and different purposes have different modes, if the words on the page are not your own, then your voice is not being heard. Why would you leave your voice out of the important writing conversation? You are an important member of the banquet.

There is no correct way, no perfect way to write, to convey an idea, to express yourself. Some writers don’t use standard punctuation marks, some write in regional vernacular, some never use contractions. How you write is up to you. And how do you find your own writer’s’ voice?

You won’t know until you write.

There are many rules and tips about writing, but it’s crucial to remember some of the basics: writing is art, write what you know but learn what you can, and the only writer you can be is yourself. We’d love to have you join us for one of the upcoming writing groups or classes. I also have a few openings in our Writing Gym and I’d love to talk to you to see if we’re a good fit. What are you writing? I’d love to hear about it here.

All of the best & until next time, happy writing.

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