Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Bad Advice for Writers


I’ve expressed my opinion on this topic many times—30 posts specifically on writing advice—many comments on the side

Back in July of 2012, I wrote the post, Rules for Writers Are Slippery and Shifty . . ., which has a link to 72 quotes from writers about writing.

I picked 14 of my favorites and included them in the post—here’s my top fav:

“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.”
—Virginia Woolf

So, keeping that in mind, I’ll share a few selections from an article on FlavorWire called, Bad Writing Advice From Famous Authors:

{some may seem obviously bad to you, some may not…}

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.”
— Saul Bellow

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
— Oscar Wilde

“Write drunk; edit sober.”
— Ernest Hemingway

“You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.”
— Robert A. Heinlein

“Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
– George Orwell

So which ones seem like bad advice to you?

Which don’t seem so bad?

Any of them seem like good advice?

By the way, there are quite a few more at the link, along with Emily Temple‘s opinions about why they’re bad advice

Please, don’t hold back, let us know your favorite piece of bad writing advice in the Comments :-)
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12 responses to “Bad Advice for Writers

  1. Lorena January 29, 2013 at 2:34 am

    “Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
    – George Orwell

    Long words are so elegant and make for the nicest poetic description out there!. I wouldn’t forgo my long words, except for an action scene :P

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 29, 2013 at 2:35 am

      I’m definitely with you on that one, Lorena :-)

      Like

  2. P & A Brooks (@PnABrooks) January 29, 2013 at 5:14 am

    “Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
    – George Orwell
    That totally depends on the pacing you are aiming for… sometimes the shorter the better, others you want to drag out. Rules for which words to use kill a story and turn it into a monotone mess.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Absolutely agree, :-)

      Like

  3. cmmarcum January 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Get you a big ole pot, throw all the rules in it, stir well, and create a new recipe. You can’t become famous with someone else’s mix.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Delightful idea, C.M. :-)

      Like

  4. Wendell A. Brown January 29, 2013 at 11:56 am

    They all seem pretty good to me, my friend…some good sound advice…thanks for always sharing! God bless!

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 29, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      None of them appear “bad” to you, Wendell?

      Like

  5. Jon Jefferson January 29, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I love the Hemingway quote. Truth does come out when you have nothing stopping it.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 29, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Oh, my, Yes, Jon

      Like

  6. Hayley Linfield (@hlinfield) January 29, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I think “Write drunk, edit sober” is very good advice. That’s how you shut up that internal censor. And getting drunk is a good way to let those imaginative juices flow. (Though lately when I get drunk all I really do is get tired.)

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai January 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      Aww, Hayley, you can’t even follow your own good advice :-(

      :-)

      Like

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