Everyone is given bad advice at some point in his or her life, and for a novice writer looking to improve, there is nothing more dangerous. Here is a list of bad advice for fledgling writers to avoid.
Do not outline or plan: This advice is based on the idea that outlining and planning stunts creativity. There are some people, however, who work better by planning before taking action. For some writers, rather than constricting creativity, outlining and planning can enable thought and creativity previously hidden. Instead of constantly worrying about the plot line, character arcs, and other future aspects of their writing, those who plan are able to point out specific points and changes within their work. Later, they can elaborate, expand, and create a more detailed and sensory-driven piece.
Write what you know: The essence of this advice is that by writing about personal experiences a writer can use enough description, emotion, and imagery to convey his or her message. However, to the best of my knowledge, magic remains a product of our imaginations, and dragons have never existed (at the very least not in human history). And these mythical stories, legends, and folklore that drive many stories remain just that - fictional stories. Yet, if the advice is true, and we are only to "write what we know," how could authors like J.K. Rowling or Christopher Paolini written such successful novels?
You must read a lot in order to write well: While it is true that reading helps a writer in many ways (such as expanding vocabulary and assisting with the discovery of literary techniques, an excessive amount of reading is not required for a writer to write well. The practice and application of techniques can be enough. If you love writing, but you are not too big on reading, don't stress. Just be sure to take time out of your schedule, whenever possible, to write your heart out.
Be original: Ideally, every writer would have fresh ideas that would lend themselves to the telling of fresh stories. In reality, there is no such thing as a purely original idea anymore. Humanity has been creating stories for such a long time that all original ideas have been exhausted and reused as the basis for new adventures and journeys.
Writing is about seeing more than the black and white in life; there are shades of gray shadowed throughout all aspects of the world. Taking these shades and expressing them in words - explaining, and describing them - is the job of the writer. Keep on writing and do not let others tell you how to express yourself. Do not lose sight of why you write, whether it be to entertain, to express yourself, or simply because you must.
Grub Street Team Member
The image above is "Flight" by Gillian Collins.