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Writing advice: What’s the best you’ve ever heard?

There’s a lot of writing advice knocking around. It’s easy to find courses, online titbits and quotes all over the internet. But who really understands what advice should be valued? Writers. They’ve had buckets of advice and guidance over the years, and some of it would be better than others. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve posted on a few different writing forums to try and get an idea of the kind of things that writers hear, and the things that they value.

My first stop was the Facebook group of Bang2Write. I love to have a look at the discussions that take place on the page, and sometimes (although not as much as I should) I join in. So my post was simple – what’s the best advice you’ve ever received? The advice came thick and fast, so thanks to everyone who responded. I looked at the advice and have cut some of it together into a single blog post.

Prepare to be inspired!

Don’t worry… get it written

My favourite from the replies that I’ve grouped into this category was this gem from David McGregor:

writing advice: GetTheFirstDraftFinished

There was loads of other writing advice that talked about getting a first draft done.

Writing advice: Dont Get It Right Get It Written Quote

I love Russell’s quote. I think it sums up a lot of problems that people have with the first draft. Writers are so busy trying to get the first draft perfect they never finish it! Even if the first draft is exactly what you imaged when you first sat down with that blank page in front of you, I can guarantee that after a bit of feedback lots of things will change. Great writing advice from Russell there.

There were a few other posts that followed a similar pattern:

Writing advice: 3 quotes On First Draft Completion

It’s really hard to push through that first draft. But it came up again and again as the most important thing that a writer can do. So, make sure you finish that draft!

Be ruthless

The next biggest selection of advice was all about knowing what to leave out and what to keep in your story. I really enjoyed this bit of advice from James Tapp:

writing advice if in doubt leave it out

Brutal, but the man makes a good point! When I look at new projects I get bombarded with ideas about how to push forward with the story. It’s difficult to realise when you should include something and when it’s probably not a good idea. In that case, I think it’s usually a good idea to grab a notebook and write it down for your next project (once you’ve finished this one).

More great advice from the group followed:

2 quotes on editing

Sophia – I’m glad I’m not in one of your stories! But it resonates. You have to be prepared when writing to destroy anything in the script that isn’t working. This can be really hard, especially if the character/plot point/location has been with you from the beginning. No one said editing was easy, folks! Although for Scott McKone it’s probably a little harder than most…

advice write drunk edit sober

Don’t listen to the rules

You might find this slightly ironic, in a blog post that is trying to tell people how to write, that some of the advice talked about not following advice and rules. Peter Hitchen probably sums up a lot of writer’s frustrations when reading writing advice/rules.

three rules to writing

And I think Karen’s given up:

Nobody knows anything

Stuart and Mani agree:


throw away the rule book

My favourite bit of writing advice

The best bit that I found, however, is this. I love it because it doesn’t matter what you’re writing, who you’re writing it for, or why. Be it blog post, script, novel or short story, we all should be aiming for this. Thanks Micheal, and thanks to everyone for reading.

Impossible not to read on

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Do you agree with the quotes above? Which one is the most important you can see? Let me know in the comments below.

I’m looking to do another of these posts soon, as the response on Facebook so far has been amazing! If you have anything you want to send my way, click on my contact page, or starting a chat on Facebook, Twitter or even Google+.

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