Positive Writer

Writing through doubt and fear, and you can, too!

The Best Advice I Ever Received on Writing (and it Might be the Best for YOU too!)

For the love of your writing and your sanity, stop taking the advice from the know-it-all’s as gospel.

Seriously, that’s the best advice I’ve ever received and I’m willing to bet, at least by the end of this post, you’ll agree it really is the best advice for all of us.

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Everyone’s different.

All artists, such as writers, singers, jugglers, acrobats, and even, yes, glass blowers, are different.

Some people work incredibly hard and seem to do all the right things, at least, all the right things they’ve been told worked for others, and yet, none of it seems to work for them. Their work was underappreciated before all of the brilliant tips, foolproof strategies, and ultimate keys to success they tried, and yet most of their work remains just as underappreciated as ever.

Then, of course, there are those who don’t seem to do much more than show up and yet, they’re rocking everything they do, but they’re the first to tell you how much hard work they put into it… and yes, again, if you would just work as hard… (You lazy bum.)

The implications are always the same. You’re not trying hard enough, you’re not interested enough, you’re not caring enough, and you’re not filled with enough enoughness in all ways, for Pete’s sake.

Doesn’t that just make your heart soar and make you want to keep trying? I kind of doubt it.

Highly talented and gifted people who found their calling always seem to want to make others believe they can do just as well if they would just do what they did.

But alas, unless you’re born with the right gifts, you’re not going to pilot the next space shuttle to Xanadu no matter how much you train in your backyard wearing your adult onesie and undersized bicycle helmet. No. It’s not going to happen. It’s just not. Stop it already.

Stop the madness.

No more crack of dawn writing!

Why is it that writers read all this great advice about sitting at their desk every morning before the crack of frigg’n dawn, typing out hundreds of words of turdish gibberish, so we can later polish them into international beloved bestsellers, and we believe it?

Seriously? Someone take those meds away because they’re clearly not working.

And let’s be honest, we don’t believe it… not really. We do it because we hope it will actually work because we don’t have any better alternatives. We need the secret formula dammit!

Okay, here’s a better alternative:

Get the hours of sleep you need and wake up fully rested and then find the best time to write that works for you. It can be the middle of the day or the middle of the night, but make sure it’s a time when you feel your best, energized and well nourished. And yes, maybe for some, it might be the crack of dawn, especially if they have plenty of time to sleep during the day.

The reality is that the brain does not work as well when it is fatigued. The brain functions at its peak when it is well rested and nourished. In other words, get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of water. (Sorry, not just coffee – unless you’re like me and can’t live without it. But do you really want to follow my bad example?)

Or how about this ridiculously grand piece of advice: Be concise.

Need a say more? It’s (just) bad. Is that concise enough for you? Need I explain why this is terrible advice? Probably, because we need context. If you use too few words we might not understand what you’re talking about.

(Hell, I don’t even know what I’m talking about half of the time – no matter how many words I use.)

Clichés Vs. Plagiarism

Don’t even get me started on clichés. Okay, now you done did it. Clichés are powerful tools that allow you to say something in, ahem, a concise way, which immediately brings understanding to readers. There’s nothing wrong with a good cliché once in a while, and most of the best of the best do it, and yet, most of them will advise you not to do it.

However, on the other hand, plagiarizing without permission is NEVER okay. (Just a little tip for Melania Trump.)

But hey, if you plagiarize with permission it’s actually called quoting with attribution and not plagiarizing. So don’t forget to include the attribution, because if you don’t then it can still be considered plagiarizing. (Lesson of the day for Donald Jr.)

The Very Best Advice

The best advice I can give you is to listen to the pro’s and those who have succeeded in the endeavors you’d like to succeed in, but don’t take our brilliant tips as gospel. If something isn’t a good fit for you, don’t force it. If you can barely keep your eyes open at 4am, then go back to sleep and write at a better time when you can keep your eyes open.

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Learn everything you can about your craft and then use what works best for you. (Click to Tweet)

Sounds obvious, right? You might be surprised about how many of us get caught up in trying things that don’t work for us, but we don’t change or modify them because someone we admire said they work for them.

Do what works best for you.

Here’s what I would like to ask of you:

Consider an advised strategy, a key to success, or a brilliant tip, you’ve given every effort to use, but it just didn’t work for you. Share it with us in the comments and tell us what you now do, which has proven to work better. Maybe it’s something unconventional, or maybe something quite common, but it works for you.

Stay awesome!

If you like this post, you’re going to LOVE my new book coming out this fall, titled The Inspired Writer. In it, I pick a fight with the common advice we’ve been receiving about writing and how it doesn’t always help and sometimes actually can impede our progress. But I don’t leave you there. I share how, as a writer and an artist, you can become inspired to create your best work. Stay tuned!

About Bryan Hutchinson

I'm a positive writer and when that doesn't work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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Like a good friend, Bryan guides you through the process of facing your inner demons, conquering the craft, and creating work that matters. ―Jeff Goins

  • AC Hoekwater

    I have recently been applying a technique given to me by Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA called iteration, which is exactly what you are talking about. By applying this technique, I have discovered that I am not a morning writer. I want to be because that is the only time my house is quiet but my brain doesn’t work very well on too little sleep. Continually learning and honing both your craft and your process is the best advice.

  • Brent Johnson

    Bryan, for me I found that I need to move around, so I have multiple computers that sync and even one that I stand up to use. It works for me and after trying all the other “best techniques” they didn’t work out well. Now I am published in a trade magazine and moving towards my ultimate goals. Thanks for the article, Great stuff!

    • Great idea, Brent. What programs do you use to stay synced up?

      • Brent Johnson

        Evernote premium and MS office 365 work for me. I also use a protected I-pad tablet (take it everywhere with me) and my phone as needed. learning to sync effectively was the tricky part.

  • N K

    The “get up early in the morning and write” advice just doesn’t work for me! I’m not a morning person person, and however hard I tried I just couldn’t do it! Writing after breakfast in late mornings, and after lunch actually works for me. I am all filled up with food, relaxed and happy and thus able to focus on my writing.

    • Oh, and for me that sounds like a good time to take a nap. 🙂

  • Sondra Turnbull

    I like your fighting style.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    WOOHOOOO – your writing is thriving, Bryan – can’t wait to check out your new book 🙂

  • Judy Peterman Blackburn

    I thoroughly enjoy your posts, always uplifting. I look forward to your new book. Thank you so much. 🙂

  • I have heard over and over again to use as few words as possible and don’t use words that end in “ly” if you can help it. I tried combining these two and ended up with extremely lengthy scenes and usually ones that made little sense and took the long way to get to the point. I understand that too many adverbs can be bad, but too many words to say what one word with an “ly” at the end can say is simply silly.

    • Same here, I’ve heard that many times. I used to have a routine where after writing, I’d go back and take out as many adverbs as I could. The sentences became longer and ramble-y, and I got tired of doing it. I agree, too many words to say what one word easily can is silly, though adverbs aren’t best used here there and everywhere.

    • Truly!

  • Artur Laizo

    Perfect. I want invite you to read my Blog: https://paodecanelaeprosa.wordpress.com/
    Thank you.

  • i think the way you attract the people with your writing will win more people and at sometimes,even though we are better than other somehow can’t receive good recognisation

  • superiordomain
  • Neal Martin

    It’s been my experience that the most important thing is to cultivate writing discipline and to keep showing up at the keyboard every day…at whatever time works for you. When you do that, everything else usually falls into place. You learn to find your own way. More importantly, you learn to trust in yourself and your abilities, and in the creative process itself. You end up discovering for yourself what works and what doesn’t, instead of just hearing about it from someone else. Keep showing up and you WILL get better. That’s what I find.