The Worst Writing Advice that Takes Down Even the Best Writers

Carrie got really confused this week because she went on YouTube and looked up “Writing Advice” and there was a really popular vlogger who gives a ton of writing advice, but she’s not published things.

She is, however, really definite on her views on how to be a good writer, which is lovely. It’s lovely to be so confident.

But it made us think about what the worst writing advice ever is.

It’s not:

Write every day.

It’s not even:

Write what you know.

It’s not:

Write for you and if you like it, that’s all that matters.

It’s not any of those one-size fits all tidbits.

Here’s what it is:

Don’t write. It’s a waste of time.

I don’t care who is giving you this advice. It might be your mom, teacher, bff, your life-partner, kid, an evil bastard who lives next door, a published writer. Or worse, it could be your own inner-critic, which lurks like a demon of self doubt in your frontal lobe.

That advice? It’s crap. It’s jealousy or stupidity or self-doubt. If you want to write? Write.

Don’t believe me that everyone deals with this? Or almost everyone? Here is a quote from the man, himself.

The problems of success can be harder because nobody warns you about them.


The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now, they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome—something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.


In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t get to make things up anymore.


—Neil Gaiman, Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts Class of 2012

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Author Matthew Kesselhas some pretty cool advice about what he does when he’s overwhelmed by self doubt.

He writes through the doubt.

He reminds himself of all the good things he’s done as a writer.

Incorporates that doubt into more emotionally resonate characters.

Talks through it with other writer people who know how it is.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Dude. Be who you are. Embrace it. Don’t question it. Go with the flow, man. Don’t let others label you or diminish you, but most importantly YOU don’t diminish you.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 


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Lambs Growing On Trees, Man. Write Your Truths Because Other Truths Change

Science isn’t always right.

I know! Shocker.

Once, some scientists had this theory about the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary. They truly believed that the lamb grew on a tree.

To be fair, it was the Middle Ages in Europe and things were kind of like America right now. People had no clue about stuff, but they pretended to.

Anyway, according to Ripley’s Believe it Or Not,

There were believed to be two distinct varieties of Vegetable Lamb: a bizarre plant that produced tiny lambs inside pods, and an equally-bizarre hybrid creature that consisted of a whole, full-sized lamb, which lived suspended from the ground by a small stem! 

Chris Littlechild, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not

People believed this for centuries, right? Centuries.

What does this have to do with writing? When we write, we bring our pasts, our systems of belief and it ends up on our pages. Our work reflects our society and it reflects our own morality and beliefs. To be a good writer, we have to know what our truths are but also be willing to be challenged about them.

Writing is a communication, a social contract between the writer and the reader. We’re asking our readers to share our story, but also more subconsciously, to hear about our world views and thoughts. We’re inviting them in.

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s good for us to look at our own beliefs and morality occasionally. What do we believe in? Why do we think that’s right or true? How is that showing up in our stories?

Dog Tip For Life

Dogs truths are simple. Love is good. Food is good. Sleep is good. Squirrels are evil. Don’t be afraid to gel your beliefs down into simplicity.

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

Lambs Growing On Trees, Man. Write Your Truths Because Other Truths Change

 
 
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How to Be Happier Writers, Dogs, and People and A Little Talk about Cat Butts

How can we make our organizations and ourselves happy? 

We talk about this ALL THE TIME in our house. To be fair we also talk about expelling gas out the rectum and cookie recipes, but happiness gets mentioned a lot.

We like to think of this, which Will Durant wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Humans are pattern seekers, but sometimes those patterns aren’t helpful ones. We fall into our default patterns; they become like well-used highways, constantly-used routes to our thinking. Our brains are like mechanical devices, wired for efficiency and for those learned patterns. 

How many of us get up, make coffee, go out and exercise, come back drink our coffee, go to work via the same road, every day – or some pattern like that. We’re wired for efficiency. We’ve learned the pattern.

But the cool thing about our brains is that we can rewire them. 

The currency of the media, social media, blog posts makes it that news is attention. And negative news gets a lot of attention. Threats get attention more than positive stories and inspiration. Or do they? 

The more entrenched in our lives and our organizations and our networks that we become, the less we see the need for new patterns.

But we need are inspired evangelists.  What we need is growth and change in our lives and in our writing.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Go write somewhere new. Seriously. If you are able-bodied, get up and go write somewhere besides your normal desk or coffee house or library. Switch it up.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Routines are important for dogs, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get bored. Let your dog stop to sniff an interesting bush. Let yourself stop to notice an interesting tree. Add in 15 minutes to your schedule to allow yourself some room to discover and roam.

Shout Out

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Warning

Shaun was painting the walls in a super small room right before recording the podcast. You can tell.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

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TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn

THERE ARE ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT AND SIGN-UP ENDS JANUARY 18TH.

So are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

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Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

APPLY NOW!

How to Be Happier Writers, Dogs, and People and A Little Talk about Cat Butts

 
 
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A Story Is About More than Mechanics and Grammar. Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast.

Too often we really focus only on the mechanics of story. Writers and student-writers are told to make perfect sentences, understand the use of the semi-colon, and to spell words correctly.

“Do not turn in a manuscript to an agent or editor unless it’s perfect,” is a pretty big industry standard. 

  • Be perfect.
  • Write perfectly.
  • Have perfect grammar. 
  • Have a perfect plot.
  • Spell everything perfectly.

Here’s the thing: Your story won’t ever be perfect especially if you’re working on it all by yourself. Do the best that you can. Spell all the words. But do not fret about it forever.

So much of our writing life is spent making sure the mechanics of our stories are perfect, that we sometimes forget about the psychological aspects of our stories, the heart. 

It happens to us from the very beginning in grade school. Our teachers focus on the paragraphs, the spelling, the grammar because they’re trying to teach us to effectively communicate with the written word, but they sometimes forget to talk about our imagination, our cleverness, how our stories show our deeper selves and feelings.

How many of us worked super hard on a fourth-grade story that we thought was the most amazing story ever only to receive it with a note like, “Good job with your paragraphs!” Or, “Well done with your spelling!”

Random Thoughts

Our random thoughts this week both focus on imperfection. Shaun says in the first one, “I’m not exciting today.” 

And the second one? Ho boy. Carrie feels super vulnerable about the second one, because it shows her totally tipsy because of her social anxiety and Shaun mixing WAY TOO STRONG a drink. 

The point though, is that much like our podcast, our thoughts aren’t canned or perfect. We are real people, not polished, but pretty awesome anyways. 

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing Tips:

Don’t forget about the heart of your story, the resonance. Forget about the mechanics for a bit. What is this story actually about? What is its heart?

People like to call it a theme, but that sounds too much like grade school to us. The heart of the story is the big, essential inside part of the story’s hero. Her catalyst. Her life’s question and realization. To find it, ask what your character’s heart wants and needs. To find it, think about the lie about the world (or herself) that your character believes. That’s how you find the heart.

Dog Tips

Dogs don’t care about mechanics of things. They care about the heart of things. Be a dog.

Writing and Other News

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

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Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

Moe Berg 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

Is That Even A Joke? It’s All About the Subtext

So, um, a lot of the time during the podcast Shaun will say something that makes Carrie have these huge pauses because she’s reading the subtext underneath what he’s saying.

Honesty moment: Shaun’s subtext is usually naughty, which is totally okay because they are married, but Carrie has these brain hiccups when that happens because:

  1. She is from New England and grew up where people pretended intercourse didn’t happen and people made babies by sitting on unclean toilet seats.
  2. She is a children’s book writer, but not the cool cutting-edge kind that writes about intercourse and she’s worried about her branding. Just kidding! Sort of…

Anyway, Alicia Rasley said that in writing: “Subtext is like a gift to the astute reader—an additional layer of meaning implied by the text but not accessible without a bit of thinking. … Experienced readers aren’t confined to the text—what’s printed on the page—they interact with the text, fully participating with the writer in the making of meaning in the story.”

Sort of how Carrie interacts with Shaun during the podcast.

Writing Tip of the Cast: Not everything has to be super obvious. Trust your readers. Remember your book, like a podcast, is a conversation, not just a monologue.

Dog Tip for Life: Don’t be afraid of the subtext. Notice people’s nuance, the meaning under what they’re saying.

SHOUT-OUT

The music in this podcast is “Check Them In” by Ema Grace and her site is here. We’re able to use this amazing music, thanks to Ema’s kindness and the Creative Commons.

Writing News

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy.

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

And finally, for the month of July, Carrie’s book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

xo

Carrie and Shaun

Is That Even A Joke? It’s All About the Subtext

 
 

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