The world is based on those who know more teaching those who are learning – not teaching those who know less.
In the case of writers, for example, the new, up and coming writers seek advice from the professionals: the published authors, agents, editors, publicists, etc.
However, along the way EVERYone is given a bad piece of advice. (Sometimes several.)
One of the worst pieces of advice I’ve received is “Write what you know.” This came from Creative Writing professors, authors, and websites that advertised their writing expertise.
At first, I listened. It made sense. Write what you know. The words will flow, the characters will be real, and it’ll be EASY!
First off, it’s never easy. Excuse my naiveté.
Second, and this is the crux of the post, if I only ever write what I already know, how will I learn? How will I grow? How will I improve?
It didn’t make sense to me. You can’t tell me one minute to make sure I have all my facts straight, then tell me to write what I know.
What if I KNOW the world is flat? What is I KNOW your head will explode if I throw a wad of paper at you?
If I wrote what I knew, one of my favorite characters would never have seen the light of day. Matthew, the sister of the female protagonist in RETURNING THE FAVOR, is paralyzed from the waist down.
Did I know if anyone who was injured in this way survived in the 1800s? No. Did I know what an early 19th century wheeled-chair looked like? No.
But, I do now. Why? Because I chose to write what I DIDN’T know. I took the initiative, went the extra mile and DID MY RESEARCH.
So, what’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?