Over the years we’ve been bombarded with conventional writing tools, as well as popular yet ineffective writing advice. Teachers continue to pass along conventional tools for writing that adhere to strict guidelines and archaic styles.
Though some of these tools can be useful, they can also limit a student’s ability to create powerful and impassioned pieces of writing. Students become so preoccupied with what they should NOT do that they forget to enjoy the act of writing.
Popular writing advice has an even more confusing effect on students. The advice is generally bad guidance with one-size-fits-all statements that do not take into account the individual.
Think back on what you were told in the classroom about writing, and I guarantee you have been given some bad advice. Here are a few examples.
Write Every Day
This is easier said than done and does not help as much as we would like to think. Unless one can identify the area of struggle, writing more is not a recipe for success. Identifying the problem with your writing is more important. Whether it be grammar, writing structure, or simply “blank page anxiety”, understanding the root problem is key. So instead of writing everyday, acquiring the proper tools needed to overcome your writing struggles is far more effective.
Write Like You Talk
I’m guilty of saying this to my own kids, as it sounds like it would be a less stressful approach to writing. However, it is actually bad advice. When we speak we have the opportunity to repeat thoughts many times in an effort to get our point across to the listener. But when we write, we only have one opportunity to convince the reader. The advice to take away from this is to infuse your own voice and personality into your writing. Doing so will make for a more convincing voice and allow a connection to be made with the reader.
Write Like No One’s Going To Read It
While this may alleviate some writing anxieties, it places no accountability on the writer. Plus, someone is going to read it! This advice can also easily result in wandering off topic and losing track of one’s original writing purpose. Taking structure out of the process will generally not result in a quality end product. The more unstructured you are upfront, the more extensive the edits will need to be at the back end. If you decide to write like no one’s going to read it, keeping editing in mind can be a subconscious reminder not to stray too far off course.
Never start a sentence with ‘and’, ‘but’, or ‘because’
There are no actual rules that state that you cannot begin a sentence with a conjunction. Sometimes it results in a powerful sentence!
Show don’t tell
It is not always beneficial to your writing to go into long wordy descriptions of a person or event. Very often, college and professional papers actually require that you be concise and clear with wording.
Remember that not all writing advice is good advice. It’s about figuring out what works for each individual. Can you think of some bad advice you have been given? Leave us a comment below and we'll amend our list with your suggestions.