Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Advice: Advice Is An Open Road

Giving advice is great and all (and for some reason, writing advice posts really got this blog rolling), but doing so rings up a universal truth. As perfect as your advice my be, it will not be helpful to everyone. No one has master expertise.

And Jess, over at Concrete Pieces of Soul, summed up the matter so eloquently, I just had to have her over for my first Guest Advice (because she's awesome ... and to shake up the whole Aspiring Advice routine).

And she's getting married TODAY, which makes this post really special. Congratulations! Take it away, Jess!

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Writing advice posts is hard. There’s a lot of writing advice floating around the interweb, including everything from how to motivate yourself to write, to editing tips, to plot structure and guidelines for character development. As a writer (and not a published author), I don’t usually feel qualified to give writing advice.

People ask me for it anyway. The best thing I can say is this: writing advice can be hit or miss in terms of its usefulness. This is because writing is a creative career, not a scientific one. There’s no perfect formula for a novel, and there’s no path to publishing that works for everyone. Honestly, it’s a lot like traffic.

You’ve got the self-publishers, those people who couldn’t possibly be bothered with the crawl of the normal publishing path. They choose instead to cheat and sneak into the carpool lane, whizzing by everyone.

Sometimes they’re successful at navigating that high-speed path, and they reach success in no time. Other times, they get caught by the police or crash and burn, and their chance at success is temporarily (or permanently) over.

There are those who take the scenic route to avoid traffic. They take city streets, and make frequent stops. It might take them years to write a novel, and even more years to get published, but that’s okay.

They’re just enjoying the ride.

And then there are those like me, the ones who take frontage roads to avoid the worst of the traffic but still make it to their destination on time. I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, reading advice posts and hearing other people’s stories of publication. I’ve taken the time to educate myself on writing and publication in hopes that it will expedite my journey, but it’s not a guarantee. There are always unexpected road blocks along the way, like weddings and babies and new careers.

I guess my advice to you is this: be comfortable on the path you’ve chosen. If you’re unhappy with it, take the steps to change lanes, or exit the freeway and start using back roads. You’re in charge of this journey, and it’s uniquely yours, so own it!

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And it is for that reason I leave off my columns with "this is not the rule, just my thoughts on the matter."

Doesn't she have a good cranium on her clavicle (that's "head on her shoulders" for the illanatomate)?

J's attitude about writing is stellar. You can check out more about what she has to say about writing HERE. Visit. Follow. She's an aspiring author to watch out for!

Happy 11/11/11, everybody!

What are your thoughts on writing advice? Has it improved your career or taken you back a few miles?

I'm David, and if you have gas ... you can drive!

Want to be a guest? Email me. Let's talk.


  1. Guys, if you stopped by earlier and didn't see this up when I said it would, something goofed with the auto post. Trying to sort it out. So, yeah. Major apologies. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Words of wisdom. Well said and so true!

  3. I love your castle header. Stop by my blog if you like...I have a castle photo toward the bottom that was taken in Edinburgh, Scotland.


    Stopping by to look around...very nice blog.


  4. I definitely think that writing advice has helped! Especially if you read enough of it, because then you use what is relevant for what you're doing. And I loved the traffic analogy! It's so true that you need to find and love your own path. And congrats to Jess on her marriage!

    It was great meeting you, David!

  5. I read a lot of writing advice, as it's always good to get another perspective. Then I give it a try or let it simmer for a bit. There is no one size fits all, but I do enjoy all the different point of view.