5 Pieces of Common Writing Advice You Should Absolutely Ignore

By Ruth Barringham

I recently read an article on the Writer’s Digest website, called 5 Pieces of Common Writing Advice You Should Absolutely Ignore.

You can see the whole article here at:

It was an interesting article and while I didn’t agree with ignoring the 5 different pieces of advice, I realised many writers would, and that’s because we’re all different and we’re all individual. Different strokes for different folks, and all that jazz.

So I thought I’d take another look at them and see what you think.

1. Show Don’t Tell
This is definitely a piece of advice that’s well-known. There are stories where the characters dialogue or the action scenes tell you what’s going on. But some stories are more of a monologue so it’s mostly all telling, and this is fine too. What’s important is that the reader is entertained and wants to keep reading.

2. Write What You Know
I think it’s more accurate to say, write what you’re interested in. Copywriter Bob Bly (bly.com) put it best when he said he can only write about things he was enthusiastic about or that he could get temporarily enthusiastic about. For instance, he said he’s not a hunter and has no interest in hunting whatsoever so could never feel enthusiastic enough to write about it. But he could write about a vegetarian diet because although he’s not a vegetarian, the subject does interest him so he could get temporarily enthusiastic about it.

3. Don’t Use a Long Word When a Short One Will Do
I think it’s often best to stick to short words that everyone understands, but it all depends who you’re writing to and what you’re writing about. For instance, you’d use different words and expressions in a horror novel than you would in a romance book. It’s ok to use long words sometimes. Just because a word is long it doesn’t mean it’s not understood by most readers. As an example, the word ‘abbreviation’ is a long word (12 letters) yet everyone knows what it means, which, ironically, is to make a word shorter.

4. Don’t Edit As You Write
I never edit as I write because I like to get into ‘flow’ and do all my writing at once. But I know some other writers who like to correct things as they go along. I use outlines for everything I write so that I can write quickly whilst staying on track at the same time. But it’s completely up to everyone how they write. There is no correct way to do it.

5.Write Every Day
I write almost every day. Some weeks I’ll write only 5 or 6 days and take a day off to do other things, and other weeks I’ll write every single day. Having a day or two off can help to let ideas percolate in my mind. Yet other times ideas are popping into my head one after the other while I’m writing. Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I’ll be up at 3am writing.

The thing about being a writer is that we’re all different and so there is no right or wrong way to do anything.

Some people are morning writers, others work at night. Some have a certain number of words they write every day, while others write for a certain amount of hours.

Just do what works for you.

Try everything and reject what doesn’t work.

All that matters is that you keep on writing and earning.


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