5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Write Writing Advice
You want advice? Stop writing about writing about writing.
1. Am I qualified?
Writers writing about their writing can be interesting. I got on Quora originally because I saw Orson Scott Card posted there. I’ll read about Orson Scott Card talking about world building and creative process as much as he cares to write about it. If he’s got something to say about writing I’m all ears.
Orson wrote a book that sold 7 million copies. It’s a must read in the Sci-Fi genre. Movies were created. You can buy a t-shirt with something he created decades ago on it on Amazon right now. I want advice from him.
What have you done?
2. What do I know about my audience?
Who am I? I’m Hogan Torah and I’ve been writing for 25 years. I’ve been writing under the name Hogan Torah for one year. Google me. I auto fill.
If I told you the names and things I’ve written under previously you wouldn’t believe me. You can buy a T-shirt with something I created decades ago on it on Amazon right now. The difference is I never made a dime off of it.
I don’t feel I’m qualified to give writing advice. I couldn’t tell you one thing you are doing wrong right now. Orson Scott Card could be reading this for all I know. (I’m fairly certain he’s on here under a pseudonym as nobody writes like that with those themes but him.) I’m not going to assume a person sucks at writing because they clicked an article about being a better writer.
3. Why do I want to write about writing?
Never have I seen a community of writers write so much and voraciously about writing. Is it because they feel they have interesting new information to share? From what I’ve read the answer is no. Writing on Medium equals clicks. Clicks equals cash.
Anyone can join Medium and anyone can get paid. Creating an environment full of desperate people trying to do what many try but few are capable of.
There’s people on here who pay 5 bucks a month not because they want to read some high quality content but for a better chance of being paid to sit in front of a computer all day and call themselves professional writers. That’s a major part of Medium’s audience. Just because people read your writing about writing doesn’t make you a good writer.
Here’s a picture that more accurately represents my earnings in the two months I’ve been writing professionally. It might have been more if I wrote about writing but I prefer being the author of high quality original content. I have no desire to be that Gary dude.
4. Do I have something to say that hasn’t been said before?
Wake up at 5 AM and write? Maybe that’s what works for you. Personally I wake up when I wake up. I write when I’m in the mood. Sometime’s I’ll write for 14 hours straight. Sometimes I won’t write anything for a week. If I’m not feeling it, I don’t write.
Yet I have seen wake up at 5am given repeatedly as advice by nobodies. If it works for you, great. Don’t present it as the correct answer. It’s not a tip. It’s your strategy.
Here’s an example of something I read that actually taught me something I hadn’t heard before. And it was an entertaining read.
How I Earned $5.85 in My First Month on Medium
I’m sorry I haven’t earned $1000 to share but I’ve got some tips if you want
I liked Aamina’s honesty right off the bat. She’s not saying I’m doing it wrong, she’s saying “This is what I did right.” She beat me by 69 cents my first month which was also that month. There was nothing revolutionary until over half way in.
A trick is to view your draft on a phone. Does your story still appear readable? If not, go back to your laptop and break up the text. — @aaminahashraf
Of course! She’s absolutely right! People read on their phones. I now do this. I hadn’t seen this before. I suppose I could have borrowed this piece of advice and stretched it out to an article of my own. I’d rather give the person who thought up the idea credit and thanks.
5. Is it advice or are you just bragging?
Obviously I read some of these self proclaimed advice articles. According to a statistic I just made up around half of the stories soliciting advice in the title aren’t really advice. They’re just the author bragging or to borrow a phrase from @nateliason “StrugglePorn”
“I was a terrible writer just like you are now. I was so broke I couldn’t afford to pay attention. Then I ___________. Now I have so many idiots following me I could fall asleep with my head on the keyboard and would still make 10k a month off that one story. Just do what I did because it worked for me...”
If you want to write a story about how one of the pieces of crap you threw at the wall stuck, just say so. Don’t lure me in with advice to sell yourself.
If you are reading this while struggling writing I’m sorry this wasn’t any help. If you aren’t being published or curated it might be your subject. It could be your formatting. There’s a possibility it’s your tone. The answer is not to write a story about what other people are doing wrong.
You really want publish a story telling me there’s 7 mistakes every writer makes? You are claiming that everyone who is reading this is making these mistakes. Five of the things you list I don’t do and two of the things you list I disagree with. @adribbleofink might disagree too. He won a Hugo award. Do you know what a Hugo is? He writes and likely reads things on Medium. You said everyone.
The bottom line is there are some very good, accomplished writers on here that would never make generalized statements about what people might be doing wrong because they don’t know. But they do know quality when they read it.