You’ve just spent day, week, or months writing something. And maybe you’ve given it to one or more people to get some feedback. Should you listen to the writing advice or not?
Who’s the expert on your writing?
A perfectly valid question. Obviously, you’re the one with the idea, the creativity, the way of expressing the thoughts and words of the work. On the other hand, a writer often has a problem seeing the forest for the trees.
Should a writer follow all the rules of grammar, punctuation, and style? Or just write as he or she pleases? Who will decide? While it can be useful to seek others’ input, should you listen to the proffered advice? More good questions.
Learning the craft
It can be fun trying to write on your own. And while much of what you now know came from experience, that hasn’t been your only teacher. You learned most of the basics from a variety of educators and mentors. Writing is no different from any other art or craft. Yes, you do need to practice. But practicing the wrong things can lead to some bad habits—and results.
You need to learn the basic skills of continuity and flow, of creating emphasis in the right places, of basic grammar and punctuation (which might allow you to bend the rules once you know them), etc. That learning can come from books, a classroom, or a support group. Writing, just like other endeavors, has a collection of knowledge of what works. It can be more productive—and yes, more fun—to stand on the shoulders of others than to go it alone and possibly fail.
Who’s the final judge?
Again, it’s a case of the forest and the trees. Because of the closeness between writer and what’s written, very few writers (especially novices) and be objective about their work. Using outside insight can be extremely valuable in pointing out places where some improvements would strengthen the work.
Learn the craft
If someone is writing a diary or personal journal that’s not for others’ eyes, they should not feel obligated to embark on a field of study. However, anyone who’s thinking of taking writing seriously would benefit from some formal and/or informal instruction. There are many tools involved in writing, and aspiring writers need to learn and use them to express their thoughts effectively. They should also get into the practice of seeking out some professional writing advice. But as with any other kind of advice, it should be taken with a grain of salt. Multiple viewpoints will help resolve and differences of opinion.
Do write creatively and freely. Express yourself. But remember, the goal is to communicate—sharing your thoughts in ways that readers can understand and appreciate. Seek out advice on how to better hook potential readers—and keep them hooked.
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