The Worst Writing Advice I Ever Ignored

There’s a lot of writing advice out there. A lot of it is great. And some of it is B-A-D, bad. Like many things in life, you have to take writing advice with a grain of salt. Always trust your gut.

My first real foray in writing was in 2004. I jumped in with both feet by participating in the 3-Day Novel Contest, an adrenaline filled writing fest in which writers try to write an entire novel between Friday midnight and Monday midnight over Labor Day weekend. It’s crazy. I loved it. I finished my novel by deadline, turned it in and…won third place.

I was shocked. Thrilled. I took it as affirmation that I was meant to be a writer.

Knowing that the novel I’d written wasn’t first place material (yet), I asked an acquaintance in my book club to read it and give me comments. I didn’t have the network of writers I have now, obviously. But this woman was very well read and worked in communications. I felt confident she’d give decent feedback.

Imagine how I felt then, after the high of placing third in the 3-Day, when I read the note — the only note — she’d written on the manuscript. In essence, it suggested I use my energies elsewhere.

Any enthusiasm I’d had for the story fizzled away. I put the novel away and didn’t look at it again for years.

Only recently have I realized how much stock I put in her opinion, and really for no good reason. And only recently have I thought about that novel and seen that, while it still needs work, it’s something I shouldn’t have given up on. That I won’t give up on.

The worst writing advice I was ever given was to not pursue writing. I am SO glad I didn’t heed that advice. That I trusted my gut and didn’t give up on my dream.

If I may be so bold as to offer you advice now… Always scrutinize the advice you’re given. Regardless if it comes from someone you trust, always trust your gut and your passion for your dreams more.

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