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More Words of Advice from Famous Authors That Are Just Wrong

Last week, I went over a few bits of writing advice from famous authors that I personally disagreed with. Maybe some of you disagreed with me. I think it’s great to agree to disagree. Hopefully, though, some of you got the point—that just because someone is famous, it doesn’t mean you have to follow their formula (or creed or belief system) to become a great writer. Or a successful one.

Sometimes following a lot of advice from other people tends to confuse who you are. You are an individual, unique, and what works for one writer may not work at all for another. Stephen King doesn’t like to plot, but somehow his books have been hugely successful. His method seems to work for him, but I can assure you it doesn’t work for everyone.

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Words of Advice from Famous Authors That Are Just Wrong

I imagine this post is bound to draw some criticism, but bring it on!

Maybe it’s just me, but when I read pithy statements from famous authors that are hailed as sage advice, I often scratch my head. Based on my experience as an author, sometimes the savvy advice is more rosemary or thyme than sage.

This silly analogy makes me think of spices, which leads me to think how everyone’s tastes are different. You may love cumin in your chili (I do), but a friend of mine says it tastes like dust and she can’t stand it.

So what’s my point about sage advice? That just because some really famous author said it, doesn’t mean it really applies to you. What works as gospel for one writer may be madness for another.

So it may be wise to take such advice with a grain of salt (unless you don’t like salt—so maybe that expression doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in this context). For you, maybe that great advice is just plain wrong.

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Embracing the Boulder of Discouragement

I would like to propose that discouragement is a good thing. Excuse me? Who in their right mind would think of discouragement as a blessing? Or a benefit in any way? Sure, dealing with discouragement can make us patient and long-suffering. It can help us toughen our skin so that as more disappointment or rejection hits, the blows won’t hurt as much. Why look for the good in something so negative? And what does discouragement have to do with the craft of writing?

We’ve all heard the admonitions to persist in our writing, to fend off discouragement, to plow ahead with our calling. And that’s what we do—knowing that if we have been “called” to write, we need to be faithful to that calling or risk that empty feeling that comes from curtailing or denying our creativity. Oftentimes, writing is a joy—easy, flowing, inspired. But other times it’s a real struggle to keep at it. Maybe you feel like we’ve been over and over this subject, for I’ve run numerous posts on this topic. But this is a plague among writers, and I keep witnessing this discouragement popping its ugly head up among my clients and writer friends.  Continue Reading…