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Mabuhay, friends!

I have been a creative writer for years before I even got started on my blog. Back then, I was under the delusion that a writer’s first draft would always need be in tip-top shape. I had no idea what beta-readers, plotting, or world-building even was! There was so much to learn but I didn’t have the resources (besides fan-fiction) to teach myself.

When you first start out as a writer, the amount of information and advices can be very daunting. There are so many do’s and don’ts, and sometimes authors provide contradicting advice. While there are many resources and informational books, writing, as always, is a personal journey. What works for others does not always work for you.

Inspired by my own journey, I reached out to my writer friends to share the writing advice that just don’t work for them!


Chritina says,

When I first decided to get serious about writing a novel, I researched several plotting methods. One was called the Snowflake method. The idea is simple; you start with a one sentence logline, then expand that into a paragraph description, then a one page description, so on and so on. At some point, you take time to write out character descriptions & setting descriptions, revising your description as often as necessary before you have the story ironed out.

I definitely see how this would work for others, but it didn’t work for me. I got really frustrated writing out the descriptions; I knew they didn’t need to be perfect, but I kept getting hung up on details, especially when I had to expand beyond the single paragraph. I also didn’t use any of the extensive character notes I wrote out. My current process is to outline major story beats and break them into scenes as I write. And while I plan my characters’ goals in advance, I learn about their personalities and motivations during the writing process.

Hello! I’m Christina, and I live and breathe fantasy. I live on the east coast of the U.S., and when I’m not at my full-time job, I’m working on a contemporary fantasy novel. I love books, big sweaters, and fancy coffee. On this blog, I post updates about my WIP and reblog fun things from other writers. I’m also on Twitter at @CWritesFiction


Cinnia says,

One thing that absolutely doesn’t work for me is character sheets. Instead, characters usually “appear” or start talking to me in my head for a story concept and as soon as that happens, I start taking notes on them and the story they’re telling about themselves. And then as I outline and write, I make note of little details like physical features or things they like/dislike etc. But having to do character sheets and fill them in before I even start playing with the story? Or forcing myself to fill one in as I go? Ugh, no thanks; it sucks my creative energy like a vampire.

Another thing is forcing myself to find face claims because often, the options out there for FCs do NOT even remotely look like the characters in my head. Someday I’ll learn how to draw characters better, but until then, I don’t agonise over finding the perfect FC or even something really all that close because I’d rather be writing. Every once in a while, I’ll see a photo of a model or some stock photo, etc. that fits an OC of mine really well, but that’s incredibly rare.

Anyway, I don’t believe in forcing myself to take writing advice that sounds to me like fingernails scraping a chalkboard, ever, because I believe what works for me may not work for another writer, and vice versa.


CJ C says,

I think the writing advice that didn’t work for me is all of the writing advice that was framed as “What Writers Do.” This is perhaps a bit nonsensical, so let me elaborate: when writing advice is framed as ‘try this!’ or ‘something that might help!’ then I feel free to test it out and let it go if it doesn’t work. But if it’s framed as something that is What Writers Do (and therefore if you don’t do it you’re being insufficiently writerly), then it instantly, automatically stops working for me. Even if it’s advice that otherwise would have worked. I couldn’t outline, for a while, because I’d see guides on How To Outline that would lay it out step by step and promise that it was a path to success and good writing. And when it didn’t work, I felt like this meant I was never going to be successful and my writing would never be good. When I found something suggesting stream-of-conciousness outlining, just to get your ideas out, just as a thing to try, that worked.

I feel like part of the problem is the rigidity. I know for some people it works to write 100 words every day, but some days, I just don’t have any words in me. And some days I have thousands. Because writing is my hobby and not my career, there is no reason for me to train myself into being able to generate a set amount of words daily. If I wanted to train myself to do that, that would be one thing, but I don’t want to, and being told that that is What Writers Do just makes me write even less words. There are so many things that writers do! There is no singular guide to success, no strategy that works for everyone, and, crucially, we don’t all have the same end goal. I want to write because I have stories inside me that I would like to share. I have decided that I don’t want to try to make my living off those stories, because that would stress me out very badly, but I still want to share them. The writing advice I need is the suggestions, for me to mix and match and create variations of. I don’t want to hear about What Writers Do. I want new things to try.


🌺 Which writing advice have you heard many times but just hasn’t worked for you?

🌺 Which author do you like hearing writing tips from?

🌺 What’s your writing pet peeve?

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  1. Stuart Danker says:

    I’ve grown wary of writing advice because many of what we find are things that have worked for one specific person, with their one specific writing style. But I guess the worst one I’d received during my career was: “Don’t start with conjunctions.”

    And I guess you can see what I think of that.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing! I thoroughly enjoyed it.


  2. Hazel @ Places and Peonies says:

    This is such an interesting topic to blog about, and absolutely relevant! I’ve been attempting NaNoWriMo since 2010 and I have yet to finish a draft! I always get to 10k words and I get SO stumped! I’m hoping to attempt it again this year but from a project I’ve never done before, so we’ll see how this goes! I’m actually super excited!

    I tend to have certain scenes or convos pop up and so I write them down and I try to fill in the gaps in-between. I literally can’t write any other way! It’s so weird!


  3. Briana | Pages Unbound says:

    I love this! I also agree there’s a lot of value in framing things as suggestions/possibilities, rather than suggesting it Must Be Done.

    I have more experience writing academic papers than fiction, but I definitely didn’t do many of the things one is “supposed” to do, such as outline.


  4. Charvi says:

    Oh my god yes, the snowflake technique would never work for me. I’ve also tried character sheets but I despise them cause they’re soo long and tedious and often useless so I made a very shorter version of it and that’s been working well.

    I would definitely recommend Abbie Emmon’s writing advice channel – I would DIE for her, she offers the best advice and techniques. And Jenna Moreci is great too 🙂


  5. Louise @ Monstrumology says:

    I have a BA in creative writing and the biggest thing I took away from that course is that your way of writing is the best way for you. I got told the classic “write every single day” piece of advice so many times that I want to pull my hair out whenever I see it. I’ve never been the kind of person who can write every day, and it’s a huge reason why I’ve never taken part in NaNoWriMo.


  6. Jai Lynn says:

    This was a unique post!! Love it ❤ Everyone is different and therefore does things differently so writing should be the same. I also hate it when someone says a writer has to do it this way or that way. There are as many ways to do things as there are people! I can't do character sheets either. I have a basic idea of my characters and build upon them as I write. At the end of the day as long as we keep writing, we'll make it!! 😀


  7. Your Tita Kate says:

    when writing advice is framed as ‘try this!’ or ‘something that might help!’ then I feel free to test it out and let it go if it doesn’t work. But if it’s framed as something that is What Writers Do (and therefore if you don’t do it you’re being insufficiently writerly), then it instantly, automatically stops working for me



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