My Reluctance to Offer Writing Advice

Are you an aspiring writer, looking for advice on how to get started, how to craft a story, and/or how to get that story published? Would you like me to give you my ideas on any or all of those subjects?

written in slumber
(Image: “Written in Slumber,” by matryosha, from Flickr under Creative Commons)

If you read this blog much at all, you know that I don’t offer much in the way of writing advice. A lot of my friends post advice, often quite good, on their blogs. Some deliver great practical advice on the tedious task of sitting down and pounding out prose; others share thoughtful insights into the elements of stories and how writers, like alchemists, transmute leaden ideas into golden tales of wonder and delight.

Why don’t I offer writing advice? Why am I reluctant to do so? I think it’s a combination of imposter syndrome — my own insecurity about my grasp of the craft — and my perception that there’s more than enough writing advice being passed around already.

If I’m wrong about that, let me know.

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4 Responses to My Reluctance to Offer Writing Advice

  1. Mark Minervino says:

    And besides, once you started, you’d be deluged with requests for advice. “Free Consultation” et al.

  2. Guy Stewart says:

    I would put quotes around beaker4, copy, and past it here.

    I will add: I have read dozens of books on writing; hundreds of articles. I pick up perhaps one idea from a book; one every dozen or so articles. I am who I am today — a quilt of methods, ideas, thoughts, inspiration, and quotes, patched together on the batting that is ME. Your advice would likely add some small thing to the writer who is me; another small thing to another writer. In this sometimes lonely community that is writing, to know I travel with others is valuable.

  3. Martin L. Shoemaker says:

    Your humility and concern are lessons in themselves.

  4. beaker4 says:

    I have to respectfully disagree. I think there are many ways to do the same thing, and what works or resonates with one person may or may not be the same thing for another. That’s sort of like saying there are enough pastors in the world to spread religion, so I don’t need to do my part. What if you had the ability to touch someone directly with your message or style and you passed it up because you assume others are doing it for you?

    And your insecurity about the grasp of the craft? Again, I feel that may be an asset to someone who does not necessarily want an expert to tell them how to write, but may want the experience of reading about your struggle to write well, especially if they admire your work. Sometimes, shared struggles and insecurities are more valuable than an authoritative how-to manual. I guess it depends how you go about presenting your advice – as a traveler along the path or as an authority on the subject. If you’re not comfortable with one style, the other may still be of value to yourself or others.