The Worst Writing Advice

The Worst Writing Advice

The Worst Writing AdviceNot long ago, I gave my followers from Twitter and Facebook a chance to sound off on the best writing advice they’ve ever received. This week, I flipped the question on its head, and asked you all to report on the worst writing advice you’ve ever received.

Some of it ranged from discouraging comments to bits that perhaps are specific only to some of us. Following are the pick of the litter!

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding Age Limits

“No one has anything to write or should attempt to write before they are 40.”—Holly Heisey

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding Audience

“Don’t worry about your audience, just write for you. It sounded good at first, but it really isn’t good advice at all!”—Melissa Powell Ortega

“Don’t write something unless you think it’s marketable.”—Alisa Hope Wagner

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding Bad Writing

“There are always editors.”—William Price

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding Discouragement

“Stop writing.”— @jesterhay

“Don’t waste paper.”—Nora Spinaio.

“Not quite writing advice, but when I told my college advisor (when I was an English major) that I didn’t want to teach or go to law school or grad school, he suggested I change majors. Um…”—Becky Levine

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding Inspiration

“If you wait long enough inspiration will come. Wrong! Best advice: Start writing. If you are lucky inspiration will sneak in.”—@JudyBorger

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding Non-Advice

“How about no advice at all. Until I got Internet, getting an opinion or a drop of advice out of someone was like pulling teeth with a pair of pliers.”—Anna L. Walls

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding the Rules

“Boldly break all the rules.”—Tanya Dennis

“Follow all the writing rules.”—T. Anne Adams

“‘You have to follow all the writing rules.’ A good writer told me that, but that squelches a lot of creativity. Rules are good, but not absolute when writing.”—Sarah Holman

Your Worst Writing Advice Regarding Writing What You Know

Write what you know. If I wrote about what I know, my books would be pretty boring!”—@righter1

“Write what you know. I don’t think this is good advice because we learn as we write/research/etc.”—Nora Spinaio

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received? Have you ever heard any of the above and lived to regret it? Disagree with anything? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.


  1. Bill Swan says:

    I have thee….

    1. “Write in your spare time”. In other words, don’t bother thinking outside of the JOB mentality.

    2. “Just write it and get it published; it’s up to the publisher to do all the marketing”. Ummm…

    3. The third one comes from a guy who took a writing course from Longridge Writing School or some place like that. So I’m told the rules they have should be followed to succeed. He hasn’t sold a single page of the ONE story he wrote in the 15 years I’ve known him.

  2. Mine is rather specific. A fellow writer in this critique group I was in for a while (the critique group which turned me off of ever being in a critique group again) suggested that I didn’t have enough dialogue in the opening pages of my second novel since the character is by himself in that scene before getting attacked by the monster. Her rule was “If you ever go more than X number of paragraphs without any dialogue every reader will immediately put the book down right then.” Her advice? Create a whole new “apprentice” character for my protagonist for the sole and specific purpose of giving him someone to talk to about the blood on his windshield in the opening scene. Sigh.

  3. I took an online writing course in 2014. It gave the six or seven steps that you had to have in your story, which had to be in order. He got glowing reviews following the course. My response – it was bad advice, it was artificial and I had neither the talent nor interest in following a formula. It might work for hacks, or formulaic genres, but I would never do it.

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