I thought it was high time that I addressed some popular advice that writers should ignore. Or that you might be misunderstanding! Sometimes these common suggestions become so overused that you might not know WHY they matter or you might need to discount it all together.
Listen to Episode 138 – Popular Advice Writers Should Ignore
The beauty of the internet is all the knowledge you can find at the touch a button. My husband replaced the starter in our minivan last week after watching a video on YouTube. EPIC! But the downside of the internet is the same–all the “knowledge” you can find at the touch of a button.
I want to break down some really popular advice and why you might want to ignore it OR why you need more information to make it make sense.
POPULAR ADVICE WRITERS SHOULD IGNORE
The money’s in the list
If you know me, you know I’m into email. Research also shows that more conversions and sales happen through email than social media platforms. Yes, email has the best conversion rate for sales. But it takes work to get the right kind of email list and to sell the right kind of product in the right kind of way. Not automatic. Lots of work, but pays off.
Focus on getting the right subscribers, offering something that meets those subscribers’ needs, and then honing in on your sales copy.
- If you need more help with email, start with my Free Email Course!
Do what works for you
People sometimes think of this as do what you want. They ignore best practices and research and just do what they feel like doing. That MIGHT work, but it would likely be an exception to the rule OR you’re just more stellar than everyone else at what you’re doing.
Doing what works means that it works multiple times and over time. It isn’t a fluke or happy accident. There are many ways to do things, but you should really know the best practices first and not write those off.
Show, don’t tell
This is one of the most common pieces of advice for writers and I think it SHOULD be. However…there are some big mistakes people make in light of this advice. Tim Storm has a great post on this, where he talks about how often there is so much description that the unnecessary showing it slows the story down.
Sometimes you have to TELL. And other times, using gesture or a symbol or something else can really show something. In a book I recently read, the author SHOWED that a character was stressed by the way he counted the grains of wood in the table during a heated conversation. She didn’t write, “He was stressed.” She showed him counting as the discussion moved on around him. I LOVE that kind of showing. But super long descriptive paragraphs feel like they maybe belong in classic lit. Forever.
Do one thing really well
This has variants, like when people talk about rocking out one particular social media platform. While focus is so important (I talked about that in episode 136), it’s also a good idea to diversify.
When Facebook changed algorithms back in 2012 or even more recently, some businesses literally closed up their doors because all their eggs were in that basket. It’s good to be diversified in our income streams and in our social platforms. (Email is also still the most SURE bet for longterm connection.)
Doing one thing well is a great start, but as you start to master something and maybe get some systems or schedules in place, you can extend outward and master some other social platforms or find other revenue streams.
You have to write every day
Yes, I get it. Writing is a craft and a commitment. Setting a schedule can be a good idea. Being disciplined is important. Writing is an art, but it is also a work.
But this phrase can really lead to guilt, which can short-circuit the brain and make you less productive. Write as often as you can. Write as discipline. Write for love. Some days it might be more discipline. Some days it might not happen. Some days you will love it. And some days you love it, but you can’t DO it. It does not mean you are not a writer if you don’t write every day.
Kill your darlings
Why there is no small debate about who said this first, this is still popular (and very solid) advice! But… some people misunderstand this and think that it means you have to kill off what you love. Nope!
No, you kill off what you love that doesn’t work. I have a tendency to use the word “So” when writing, often to start dialogue. While this may be something I often SAY a lot or people say when they are speaking, it doesn’t work on the page. If you can identify those natural tendencies that you have in your writing, you can see when they are overused and have become a crutch for you, rather than a support for great writing.
You Have to Spend Money to Make Money
Yes, sort of. The problem here lies in the extremes. Some people say they have NO money and aren’t willing to invest. My friend Jami Albright sold bone marrow to buy good covers for her romance novels. She wrote two novels and the sales were so good, she is now full-time. But her original budget took some creative straining to pay for the necessary things for success. (Also, her covers were great, but still on a budget.)
On the other extreme, I hear people saying they paid $1k for a blogging course or some kind of author marketing thing and they haven’t made the money back. You likely need to invest, but at the beginning stages, that doesn’t HAVE to be a bazillion dollars. Start and scale. But don’t scimp on the really key things.
Hit up episode 137 if you need to know Six Questions to Ask before You Invest!
What did I miss? Share any other pieces of advice you’ve heard in the comments OR what I may have not covered all the way in these common pieces of advice!