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Overdosing on Writing Advice

Writing can be a lonely business. As the author you're the only person who can write the story that you want to write. Sure, you might have friends, beta-readers, creative writing groups, and co-writers around you during the process, but ultimately your ideas start inside your head and that's where they percolate alone and uncertain until they're ready to come out.

If you're anything like me, you easily succumb to self-doubt (what if I can't finish this story? What if I spend so much time writing it and nobody wants to read it?) and that's when it's tempting to trawl through blogs, author websites and writing forums for comfort. There's nothing wrong with that and I'd bet that most writers do this from time to time (or a lot).

But doggy-paddling through those unfathomable waters can quickly become overwhelming if you try to take it all in, because a lot of the advice out there for writers is full of disagreements and contradictions, and you will get bogged down. Pretty much all advice for writers is subjective, and what works for one person might not work for the next. The problem is that it's easy to take everything as gospel and take everything to heart.

In earlier days I’d find myself saving every writing advice link I could find, blog-hopping and forum-stalking to find The Ultimate Formula. But a lot of what I found was basically the same things being said over and over, just in different ways. Or, I'd read advice that wasn't specifically related to the types of stories I was writing, but I'd still try to follow it.

It's hard enough wrestling stories and novels and plays and poems and articles without also worrying that you’re not abiding by the gazillion ‘How To Be A Successful Author’ articles floating around out there.

What you can do is pick a couple of key resources, blogs and articles that resonate with you, or gel with your particular genres or writing style. You'll start to notice that you gravitate toward certain blogs, authors, publishing sites, etc--probably because what they're saying speaks to you on more than just surface-level. It’s like a balanced diet. These are the clear, concise posts that you can refer to time and time again. Posts where the content is broad enough that it doesn't restrict you or become too outdated over time, but it also doesn't bog you down with too many irrelevant details.

Saying that, of course there are times when authors just want a quick brain-hug, and that’s OK, too. Just remember that you can't follow every single piece of writing advice because it might not be relevant to you.

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