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Have you ever taken bad writing advice?

Sometimes it's hard to know which advice to take! (Tui Snider)
Sometimes it’s hard to know which advice to take! (Tui Snider)

Writing Advice: Take it or toss it!

“Never take advice, including this.” I love that quote from the author Katherine Anne Porter because it is so dang true! We all need advice, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s good from what’s bad. Have you ever taken the wrong advice regarding your writing? I know I have!

Most of the bad writing advice I get falls into 1 of 3 categories:

1. “You know what you should write?” I bet I’m not the only one out there who is constantly being told (usually by non-writers) what they “really should be writing.” This is amusing most of the time, especially when complete strangers suggest that I write their biography! And, sometimes (especially when it comes to offbeat travel destinations and overlooked history) these unsolicited leads turn into something interesting!

2. Well-intentioned but misguided advice: A friend called while I was wrapping up Unexpected Texas. It was my first book and I was so excited! My friend, however, was extremely skeptical. She told me writing books was wasted effort and that I should put my energy back into writing magazine articles. By the time I hung up, I was riddled with doubt! After sleeping on it, though, I realized this particular friend is suspicious of anything new, even in her own life. (In fact, she’s been “stuck” in a job she hates the entire time I’ve known her!)

3. Advice that is secretly meant to cut you down:  This is the most damaging advice of all, especially when dispensed by a supposed friend, someone you thought was on your side, but who secretly wants to discourage you. I’ve fallen prey to this several times because it can be so hard to spot! I often see other writing pals fall prey to this poison, too.

I know people who have given up writing completely due to such malicious advice. It’s nasty stuff, but the best antidote I know is to find a group of supportive writers such as IWSG, ROW80 and #StoryDam. As a creative person, you must be careful who you take advice from, and pay attention to how it makes you feel! What about you? Have you ever fallen prey to misguided writing advice?

What is IWSG, anyway?

150-InsecureWritersSupportGroupIWSG stands for “Insecure Writers Support Group.” It’s a monthly check-in for writers of all stripes. Its creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh, describes ISWG like this:
“Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!” – Alex J. Cavanaugh

To read other people’s IWSG posts, Insecure Writers Support Group.

Want to read more?

To read about more weird, offbeat, and overlooked places, check out my best selling travel guide: Unexpected Texas.
For ghost hunting hot spots, check out my best selling travel guide to haunted places: Paranormal Texas.
For a strange-but-true tale of Texas history, check out: The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber. Happy travels!

Hey, you! Want to come along for the ride?

For updates on my offbeat travels, books, & other fun stuff (such as postcards from the road!) subscribe to my author newsletter using the form below:

Tui Snider having fun on a Texas road trip!
Tui Snider having fun on a Texas road trip!

Tui Snider
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Published inBlog on Writing & Life


  1. I have actually. I was told by an agent that writing action was more suitable for men’s stories like war and spy novels. To try and write more ‘feeling’ books. Really threw me off my game back when I was a new writer. But I write what I want now…now matter what.

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi, Raquel! Like you, I write what I want no matter what… Now, that is! That’s such a paradox when you first start writing. That’s when you most need advice, but when you are also most vulnerable to bad advice! Thanks for dropping by. I’ll be sure to visit your blog here, too! :D

  2. Terry Tyler Terry Tyler

    I avoid these by rarely talking to anyone about what I do, except those who already read my books! I remember, though, when I started a shop (over 30 years ago now), and talked to everyone about it. Those who weren’t busy telling me how it would fail were saying to others, behind my back, so I get the concept!!!

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi, Terry! You had a shop, eh? Well, I had a coffee house over 20 years ago. And, yeah, people were always accosting me with unsolicited advice. I once wore a wig and sunglasses to the grocery store on my day off so I could shop in peace. I thought I was so clever until a customer walked right up to me and says, “I’ve got a great idea for your shop.” Not a word about the wig, mind you…

  3. That’s why I advocate taking all advice with a grain of salt. It’s advice, not fact, so we all need to listen, but not let it dictate us. What works for one person, won’t work for another after all.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine (Cohost for June)~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi Patty! Your remarks remind me that we all need to be equally careful regarding the advice we give other writers – and remember not be offended if they ignore what seems like great advice to us! :D

  4. You should take any kind of unsolicited advice the same way you take unsolicited offers in your inbox: with heaping mounds of skeptical salt. Most people are generally good-intentioned and everyone has opinions, but neither of those traits indicate said people have any idea what they’re talking about. Just smile and nod.

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      I hear ya, & I agree! That said… I have been knows to fall for the well-intentioned-but-secretly-snarky stuff. Thanks for dropping by! :D

  5. This holds true for every aspect of life: hang out with positive people and avoid those neggies. Hi, Tui. Great post. Thanks for reminding me to stay away from anyone negative.

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hey, Joylene! Thanks for dropping by. You’re right! I guess that while I expect negative peeps in other arenas, my inner Pollyanna expects other writers to want nothing more than to support each other. Silly me! :D

  6. Hi, I get so much advice from non-writers that it makes my head reel. They have advice from what I should write to how I should write it. Thank God I don’t listen to them.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna’s Scriptorium

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Hi, Rachna!

      Yes, it’s good to master the art of smiling and nodding, isn’t it?

      Thank you for stopping by! :D

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