3 Writing “Tips” We Should Stop Saying

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

“I’ve experienced neither spectacular failure or awesome success in life. I can teach about neither.”

Screw it. The title is long, but I’m keeping it. I’m not the greatest at making snappy headlines. Maybe there’s an online course made by an Instagram Influencer that will teach me how to “grab an audience’s attention” for only $21.99. Of course, I’m too broke to buy their course, and I’m never quite sure it isn’t just a get-rich-quick scam out to prey on my innermost dreams.

I’m reading (and re-reading) Personal Experience articles from Cracked tonight. If you haven’t checked them out before, click that link and take some time. They’re both informative and humorous on some pretty dark corners of our society.

I know there’s hundreds of How-To-Write articles out there. I’ve written a few. I’ll be honest. My how-to-write articles were written when I had nothing else to write.

I’m betting most of the others were too.

How-To-Write articles that explain the same 10 techniques of writing have been written over and over again because they’re simple. They’re easy. They don’t tend to make anyone angry.

There’s no-one picketing writing articles. No-one wants to argue against them or more truthfully, no-one will. Every writing tips article I’ve read has had points that have rankled me for years,, but I’ve gone along with them in the past. If every writer with much bigger audiences is saying this, it must be true.

I’m calling B.S.

Go ahead and tell me how wrong I am. I’m getting to my don’t really care age.

Any Variation of “Don’t Write for The Fame”

Medium Staff is big on this. Many of my favorite Medium writers are big on this. It sounds like

“If I wasn’t making money from this, I’d still be writing.” or

“If you’re writing to get famous, stop writing” or

“Don’t write for likes, claps, hearts, etc….”

I’m calling B.S.

You know why you don’t see this advice from people who haven’t become “semi-famous”? We know it’s a crock of shit.

If you weren’t making money from this, you’d be writing in a diary and not online on a monetized blog or publications or Medium.

If you weren’t trying to get famous, you would do nothing but live like a hermit in the woods/monk in a monastery. And no, I don’t mean like the sanitized, glossy hipster versions of family camping trips you see on Instagram where everyone is white, smiling, and well-rested. I mean, like, a hobo Ashley.

If you weren’t writing for an audience, you wouldn’t be devastated that your ‘sweated-your-heart-out-and-bled-on-the-paper-for-hours’ story got 27 claps while some tired, rehashed writing tips get 2K claps.

Why has it become a badge of honor to write for no validation?

Validation is not a bad thing. We do beginning writers a disservice by pretending we’re above feelings of inadequacy. Feelings of frustration. Thin-Skin feelings.

Like we don’t care who interacts with our art. We just want to create. *Gag*

I see well-established writers who have the audience that many of us beginning writers want eventually, and we’re told not to even strive for that. As if simply wanting people to read your words will repel your audience.

Stop doing this. It’s how you get people writing these ridiculous articles because they’re trying to bury their human need for appreciation and acknowledgement.

Yes, we may be intrinsically drawn to create, but most creations are meant to be shared. That’s not a bad desire.

Any Variation of “Write About Your Passion”

I have clinical depression. I’m not passionate about much. My baseline mood tends toward meh. More Eeyore than Tigger.

Sure, there were things I was interested in, but I wasn’t passionate or knowledgeable. One of the main characters in my first novel was a soldier who had just returned home. I remember being so excited that I had finished it. Then, I read writing tips about passion and only writing what you know. (cause your audience can tell when you phone it in)

Never mind that I read history books about various wars and military combat. Never mind that I wanted to write a convincing point-of-view from a solider. Never mind that I was a 15-year old who loved to write. Never mind that I had written two 400+ plus page novels in a year and a half.

Combine that advice with having very little interesting life experience (see quote above), and I didn’t write for years.

Why do we shut down beginning writers instead of telling them to practice more and more?

Offer feedback. Offer constructive criticism. Don’t slap a bunch of rules up, go make your money, and leave. Ask yourself, if you were just beginning to write, what would encourage you to keep going? What would give you actual, practical tools for writing?

Don’t just write pithy advice that sounds good to other well-established writers, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day.

Any Variation of “It’s Not Real if It’s Polite”

I never cursed in my writing before I joined Medium. I actually didn’t start cursing in real life until a year ago. Habit picked up from my husband. (Did you know my blog posts get more reads and responses if I curse in them?)

I’ve written about the weird situation of being the person who hasn’t experienced much outer tragedy in life. I don’t have a deep, dark story to tell, and if I did, it would be fictional.

Many writing tips I read have “Be authentic, be vulnerable, be honest” somewhere in their list.

I want to call double B.S. on this one.

No-one wants to hear about growing up in a healthy two-parent household. It doesn’t sound authentic to them. It doesn’t have that glaze of realistic pain. So I’ve tried writing about the few things I have conflicting feelings over.

My childhood faith, my parent’s use of physical discipline.

They’re just not tragic enough. (And holy shit,what a terrible message to send!)

Before you start throwing rocks and calling for my head, think about what that says about us. Do we only want to hear the horrible stories? Are we so drawn to the worst in humanity that the best doesn’t stand a chance anymore?

Bad news travels fast.

Why do we let good news travel with a limp?

Try an experiment. Pick out the stories about good things on your homepage on Medium. See how many you can find.

Then, actually read them. As you feel it’s warranted, leave claps and comments. Leave constructive criticism and some good old-fashioned feedback.

See how many beginning writers day’s you can absolutely make by a well-placed comment or well-earned 10 claps.

Cheers, friends.

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Miyah Byrd

Miyah Byrd

Hipster. Hooligan. Writer. Wanderer. Host of upcoming podcast, We Don’t Talk About That!