I heard someone being given bad advice today. I interjected my opinion, but the advisor doubled down and gave some truly condescending words after I spoke my bit.
I can only hope that the recipient will be true to themselves, and that’s where this quote from Dr. Seuss comes in.
In Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”, he says:
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
In any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And you’re the guy who’ll decide where to go.
There are over 200,000 books on Amazon for the search term “writing book”. There are bestsellers, MFAs, professors, self-published authors, movie producers, and more who have written these books. Some give advice that resonates deeply with me. Some give advice that doesn’t ring true to my own reading and writing experiences.
When it comes down to it, though, I have to agree with the British novelist and playwright:
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
W. Somerset Maugham
You can keep reading books about writing. You can keep watching Youtube videos, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks. Ultimately, writing is subjective. There are “rules”, and there are methods, but none are meant to solely be followed or used every time. There are tropes, and sometimes spinning them on their head is the most important thing you can do.
Writing is an art, and artists better themselves through practice, which in writing is … actually writing.
Some of the best writing advice I’ve been given was, “Art how you want to.”
“And you know what you know”. Don’t listen to what everyone has to say.
Please take the advice you’re given with a Himalayan rock salt lamp, and in the words of the Buddha – “Be a lamp unto yourself. Be your own confidence. Hold to the truth within yourself as to the only Truth.”