Writing advice has its place – as in it can be helpful if it applies to your specific journey or if you’re looking to be traditionally published. I do believe that whichever route you want to take – traditional, indie, or hybrid – it’s always best to write what you love, because that writing will come off as the most authentic. Some agents are looking for fresh ideas and new takes on older ideas; sometimes trends change in the literary world. I believe that one should always write the story they want to write first and worry where it’s going to fit in after it’s done. Now, this is just my opinion, so don’t take this advice if something else will suit your journey better. This is the method works best for me, because I prefer self-publishing, though I’m open to potentially publishing my work through a small or independent press. Indie authors generally have the advantage of being experimental and figuring out what their style is without the pressure of pleasing the market.
What gets me the most is the unsolicited writing advice thing. Sometimes well-meaning writers (or people who think they’re literary wizards) feel they’re obliged to tell you if they think there’s too much telling or too much narration or too much something. There’s also a lot of writing advice floating around out there that can be conflicting – so it can confuse people, especially newer writers. The reality is that there’s no one size fits all formula for the perfect story and that’s mainly because creative writing is an art form. Art is subjective. Yes, it can be critiqued, but that doesn’t mean the artist’s creation isn’t valid or good as it is. Not everyone sees their writing as pure art, but some people do, so they can take offence when someone comes in and wants to “polish” it to be more like a traditionally published story.
Another thing that’s worrying about writing advice and writing rules is that it can take a lot of the fun out of the writing process – especially if you see it more as art or a fun hobby. I believe the phrase “do what works for you” applies well to creative writing. The point isn’t to be perfect or to be on trend – the whole idea is to write the story that’s true to you and your style will improve. You will progress the more that you write, so it’s not like your writing style is going to stay the same forever.
Am I saying that a writer should never take outside advice? Certainly not. If you’re seeking advice or want to try writing in a certain style or market, then by all means, research it up and take notes from people who are experienced with what you want to do. That certainly doesn’t hurt. Still, in the end, it’s really up to you how you want to proceed with the book you want to write.
So, if writing advice and unsolicited critiques ever find their way to you, I say take them with a grain of salt – unless you feel there’s something you can learn from that they’ve told you. Not everyone needs to like your story and maybe there are some parts that aren’t 100% polished. Perfection isn’t the point and it never should have been the point with story writing (in my opinion). If someone doesn’t like your book, they can choose to stop reading it. It doesn’t mean you need to change it or adjust your style. I hope you will always write from the heart and stay true to the craft that you love so much.
Protecting your energy is key as a creative, so if things ever get a little noisy in the social media world, be it too much advice, negative comments, etc. feel free to mute it.
Happy writing, writing fam. Xx