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Q: What piece of writing advice have you ignored to the betterment of your writing?

Show, don’t tell. Write now and edit later. Work offline. Write what you know. Avoid the passive voice.

For something that’s considered an art, writing sure has a ton of “advice” you’re supposed to follow if you dream of success; stray from oft-repeated wisdom and you’re branded as a rule breaker.

But really, writing is an art. What works for one writer can work for thousands of others, yet this doesn’t guarantee that it’ll work for you. It’s even possible that this is a part of the pressure so many writers feel. You try to sit down and write every day, but your brain refuses to cooperate most of the time. You try freewriting, but you end up with inedible word soup. You try using pen and paper, but this leads you down a procrastinatory path of finding the best notebook and the best pen tip size—and your hand cramps up a lot.

Upon closer inspection, much of writing is simply busywork, a checklist of standards you’re supposed to meet before you can hope to come up with something good. Looking around you, you’ll also find that many writers succeeded because they broke the rules. They took the experiential wisdom of others, smashed it, reassembled it, gave it two or three coats of paint, and called it style. Perhaps you’ve experienced this too. Have you ever tried ignoring writing advice to the betterment of your writing? Did you set out to do it or was it out of necessity? How did you feel as you went along this path, and how did you deal with those feelings? Would you do it again or do you plan to follow what’s advised next time? Tell us about it in the comments.

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