Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bad Advice: Spit it out!

Bucket Found in an Outbuilding, Return to the Borntrager Homestead by OpenSpaces PrairiePlaces
Bad advice. At least once, we’ve all listened to it, then wished we’d spit it in a bucket somewhere on the back forty.

As serious writers, spouses, parents, or cooks, we are forever looking for ways to improve our skills and reach more hearts. We read books, attend conferences, and go on as many blogs as we can, to gobble up the best advice possible.
But sometimes we come across a bit of bad advice. If we know it’s bad, good. We can spit it out like a cow spits out the stubble, only swallowing the grain. If we’re unaware that it’s bad, then not good. We can go down a wrong path in our career or our life, or at the very least, waste precious time.

A frustrated writer once told me not to read craft books, stating that my writing was good enough, and those books would only confuse me. Had I listened to this bad advice, I would be a much poorer writer than I am today. With the help of all the craft books I’ve read in spite of that poor advice, I believe my writing is improving every time I sit down to type, or get out my journal to muse.

Have you ever read or heard some bad advice concerning your writing, or another skill you take seriously? Did you know it was bad, or did you listen to it, later realizing it wasn’t sound? How do you sift advice to weed out the stubble from the precious grain that nourishes?


  1. Sometimes it's hard to sift and discern advice as bad. I did sort through something I was told not to long ago. Prayer. Seeking advice from another trusted source and wading through the pros and cons helped me realize it wasn't good advice for me.

    ~ Wendy

  2. Prayer is my major resource for answers! After that I trust hubby's advice, my agent (Diana!), and critique partners. I know they all want the best for my writing career.

    Good post, Jen.

    P.S. Don't forget to ck out my extravaganza books giveaway, Jen!

  3. The way I avoid bad advice is to not seek it out in the first place. If they offer advice without my asking, then I have to pray about what they say and go from there.

    If there's someone who is a subject matter expert in my field or in a path that I want to take, then I would pray first to discern their spirit to see if God would have me to ask them for advice.


  4. Nothing yet. Hopefully, I will have discernment for when the time comes. :O)

  5. Great post....I think we all need to use discernment when others give us advice....Yes, I have taken bad advice in the past and learned that first I need to be careful of whose advice I take and second to ask God to clarify if this is the path for me......ultimately, God needs to be the guide.....

    Hugs and blessings,

  6. I have been frustrated lately at the lack of understanding of critiquing among members of critique groups or even "professionals". Which also makes me afraid to critique anyone else's work. I think some are so quick to hand out advice on a work when they dont really understand the big picture or the author's intent. Id rather they tell me, "I dont know" than make something up. Make sense?

  7. I can't think offhand of any truly bad advice I've received, but maybe I did such a good job of spitting it out that it didn't leave a nasty taste in my mouth. :) There are times when I get advice that makes it clear a person doesn't fully understand my situation, so I sift through it like you said...through God's Word, prayer, and insight from others who do understand the situation.

  8. More often than not, I hear a blanket statement and believe that it must apply to me, or I interpret it as something that all serious writers must do, and since I want to be a serious writer, I must do it. This has led to a few embarrassing situations where I had to backtrack and regroup. Said advise may have been perfectly lovely for someone else. But for me, it was the wrong path. I must keep focused on my mission, personality and path and make sure whatever I do is right for me.
    Thanks, Jeanette.

  9. I find when someone poses advise as a possiblity rather than a must I listen. I read a blog recently quoting a writer who advised that you must plot. But I recently read another writer who does not plot. However, the second writer stressed you need to write to find your way, he can't tell you how. So just write. Advise that I do take seriously!

  10. Before taking advice, I usually consider the source and what kind of experiences and knowledge it might have. I think that helps a lot. :-)

  11. Jan and Krsiten: I know exactly what you mean. I believe God has a different path for each of His kids, and this is why we must examine advice in the light of His leading, not just swallow it whole, then choke!

  12. PRAY before taking ANYONE'S advice. Then if you do, I agree with Jessica; onsider where your information is coming from and their experience.

    Great post!



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