Wednesday, 25 May 2011

If you'll take my advice...

Everybody loves to spout advice, don't they? All you need is a half baked opinion - usually actual knowledge or insight gets in the way and makes the issue too complicated - and you can expatiate to your heart's content.

In the past few years of knocking around the internet in search of helpful nuggets of wisdom I've encountered many self-appointed experts. They tend to be somewhat lower on the food chain than the really successful writers whose opinions might actually be worth listening to if they had the time and could be bothered pontificating. Often they are only wannabes themselves. And many of them are so low down the food chain they are probably less knowledgable and experienced than...well, just about anybody.

I've spoken before about the dangers lurking on message boards. There are fantasists and liars around who aren't too fussy about the deceptions they perpetrate, and one thing they love to do is make themselves out to be something better than they are. It's so easy. Why waste twenty years building a real career in creative writing when you can make one up - and with the anonymity of the Internet no one can deny you.

So my opinion about advice obtained online is be very critical of all of it.

Most of it is rubbish. Even the most well intentioned advice might not be suitable for you at your stage of development. What helps one person may not help another. Sweeping statements are usually hopeless. Nothing is ever that simple and even the most obvious rules have been broken at one time or another.

The best teacher is your own experience and that takes time and hard work. Read a lot and write a lot and be skeptical of anyone coming at you with advice.

No comments: