Writing is a highly creative process. How can you distinguish quality writing from trash? Everybody has their own opinion, but sometimes people say mindblowing things.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Often, the guidance given by educators, especially in advanced creative writing, can be conflicting and not universally applicable. Writers are sometimes advised to follow strict rules that may not enhance their story, showing the subjectivity and potential inadequacy of some writing advice.
  • Writing about race, sexual orientation, and gender can be particularly challenging due to the sensitivity required. Writers often receive poor or insensitive advice in these areas, highlighting the need for better understanding and representation in writing.
  • Amid various influences and trends, it’s crucial for writers to maintain their unique voice and style. Identifying and embracing one’s own style, seeking honest feedback, and staying confident are key to preserving authenticity in writing.

Writing can sometimes feel like a challenging task, even for those who do it often. This difficulty often stems from the need to translate complex thoughts and feelings into clear and structured words on a page. Unlike speaking, where we can use gestures and tone to convey meaning, writing relies solely on words to express ideas, making it a more demanding form of communication. Moreover, finding the right words to accurately reflect our thoughts can be tough, especially when trying to write about complex or emotional topics. 

Writers also face the challenge of organizing their ideas coherently, ensuring that their writing flows logically from one point to the next. All these factors combined make writing a task that requires not only language skills but also a great deal of courage and perseverance. But what can you do when faced with them? Most people ask for advice; what they receive in turn is not always helpful though. One of the users on Reddit asked the community to share the most ridiculous writing suggestions they got.

Getting Confused by Professors and Other Students

In the world of advanced creative writing, there’s a common problem: figuring out how to deal with the mixed bag of advice from teachers and the strict writing rules they often stick to. This issue comes up because different educators give varying, and sometimes opposite, tips on writing. Plus, there’s this pressure to always follow certain “rules” in writing, which might not always make sense or help the story.

Was told to never use the word “grin”, because people are incapable of grinning. The professor then went on to write about three more paragraphs on the subject, so guess what I titled my next short story I submitted.
Was told by a different professor that my fantasy story (which was in a completely made up world of my own creation) needed a date so he knew what time period it was being written in. I asked how that would clarify anything since the times wouldn’t be comparable at all to our world, and he just doubled down and said that the story won’t work without one.
These were professors teaching Masters Degree level classes by the way

“I think the utter rejection of adverbs, without explaining the rules in which they’re necessary is so detrimental. Like, don’t say your character whispered quietly. That’s different than saying your character was grinning sarcastically.”

“I was told if you want to write novels start with short stories. Well writing short stories taught me to write short stories and I learned a lot – about writing short stories. It was much later I learned that writing a novel is a completely different critter with not a lot of cross over.”

“Her experiences aren’t relatable to me, so you should consider changing them.”

“In a college class. For context, the character was a teen girl from India in the 90s. The guy giving me this advice was some gross white dude from Ohio”

As you can see, sometimes the best advisor is yourself. It’s important to filter through the suggestions made by professors because their occasional incompetency becomes evident.

Discussing Women’s, POC, and LGBT Rights in Class

Many commenters happened to be in situations involving race, sexual orientation, and gender when it came to awful writing advice. Many people have faced tricky situations when writing about race, sexual orientation, and gender, often receiving poor advice in these areas. Writing about these deeply personal and complex topics can be hard, as there’s a real struggle to get the representation right and not fall into stereotypes or offend anyone. This adds an extra layer of challenge and sensitivity to the already tough task of writing. 

“A fellow student in my writing class in college told me to my face that my story needed to incorporate more “archetypes” like “the veteran, the researcher, etc.” in order to “expand out the story and turn it into a novel”.
It was a short story thriller using werewolves as a metaphor for gayness, to show how easy it is to dehumanize others. I explained this beforehand and in an extensive author’s note. I still to this day have no idea what on earth he thought I was doing.”

“I had 1 professor in 2000 address the women directly in class and told us to stick to romance novels. Never have I received worst “advice.”

If you’re white and straight, don’t include non-white, non-straight characters in your story unless there’s a plot-important reason for it.
I’m sorry, but what? The only people who can simply exist in a story without their ethnicity and sexuality needing to be integral to the plot are white straight people.
Note that this was not a discussion about sensitive portrayals, stereotypes, or OwnVoices. It was just if “non-standard” people are in the story, there has to be a story reason for this. And these were writers saying this.

Even though writing about race, sexual orientation, and gender can be really tough and sensitive, there’s a funny side to it as well. It’s kind of surprising, but looking back at some of the not-so-great advice we’ve gotten, you can’t help but laugh a bit. It just goes to show that even when tackling serious topics, there’s often a chance to find some humor and keep things light. 

Tips on How to Stay True to Your Writing Style

Staying true to your writing style is like keeping a firm grip on your unique voice in a noisy room. It’s all about being genuine and expressing yourself in your own special way. This can be tough, especially with all the different writing styles and trends out there. But holding onto your own style is super important because it’s what makes your work stand out as uniquely yours. Here are some tips to consider when writing: 

  1. Identify Your Style: First things first, figure out what makes your writing yours. Maybe it’s the way you put words together, your storytelling rhythm, or your knack for vivid descriptions. Whatever it is, get to know it and own it.
  2. Read a Lot, But Don’t Imitate: It’s great to read all sorts of books and authors – it can really open up your mind. Just remember not to copy their style. Let their stories spark ideas, but keep your writing true to you.
  3. Write Regularly: Practice makes perfect, right? The more you write, the more you’ll refine your own style. Writing regularly helps keep your voice strong and consistent.
  4. Get Honest Feedback: Sometimes, it’s hard to see your own work clearly. Getting thoughts from others can help you see what’s unique about your style. Just don’t lose your voice trying to please everyone.
  5. Stay Confident: Trust in your style. Don’t change it just to fit in. Your style is a big part of who you are as a writer.
  6. Experiment, But Stay True: It’s cool to play around with different writing styles, but always come back to what feels right for you. Your style can change and grow, but it should always feel like it’s yours.

By keeping these things in mind, you can make sure your writing always feels true to who you are. Your style is like your signature in the world of words, and it’s what makes your writing special.

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