Ten Pieces of Writing Advice to take to Heart

Jody Lebel
Published on: August 2013
1. Don't assume there is any one single path that you as a writer must follow. There is no list of Dos and Don'ts written in stone that is guaranteed to work for you. Listen to the successful writers and consider their methods, but do what is best for you. People often bemoan the surplus of contradictory writing advice found in magazines and online, but it's there because there are many, many tried and true methods that are successful. Experiment and find the things that click for you and your level of writing skill.
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2. Don't try to write like some other author, even if he or she is successful. The one thing you possess that no one else does is your own voice and your own approach.

3. Don't get too caught up in debates about outlining versus not outlining, editing as you go or waiting until the end, or those never ending 'telling versus showing' discussions. Try different approaches and see what fits your voice.

4. Never give up. Writers write. It's what we do. It's what we love. Do you know what they call a writer who never gives up? Published.

5. Don't be unnecessarily cold, rude, or hostile to those who do not see your writing as brilliant. Also have patience for those writers who are not as skilled or who are not as far along in their writing lives as you. Most likely someone helped you. Take a moment to gently help someone who is starting out. Folks in the publishing industry talk and word spreads about who is easy to work with, who is kind, and who is not.

6. Use criticism as a learning tool. Don't ever dislike someone for the feedback they give you. No piece of writing is universally accepted. Nearly every reader will have a different opinion of your work, and there is value in that. Accept what suggestions you believe are valid, recognize any writing issues you might need to address, and ignore the information that doesn't fit your style.

7. With that said, don't be susceptible to the online audience who seem to take joy in posting hurtful comments. They are truly not personal. Those comments satisfy some need in the poster's life that has nothing to do with you. Ignore them and don't be tempted to exchange words with them. You won't win but you will fuel their sociopathic fire.

8. Don't ever lower your standards when it comes to the basics: spelling, grammar, and proper punctuation. Those are the foundations that keep our writing in the acceptable realm if we choose to self-publish, and also keeps our queries from hitting the trash can at the agent's office.
9. Don't write something in an attempt to satisfy a market trend. By the time your book is ready to go, the fad will likely have passed or at the very least be on the way out. The amount of romantic teenage vampire novels in desk drawers would stun you.

10. Don't be jealous of another writer's success. Celebrate it. Learn from them instead of begrudging them. Another author's success doesn't infringe on yours. Someday it will be your turn.
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