Last week Nathan Bransford asked blog readers to tell him about the worst piece of writing advice they ever received. I didn’t participate because I couldn’t think of anything. Sure, there was the critique partner who rewrote my manuscript in her own style. Yeah, I’ve been told a story was ready for submission only to realize, months later, that it needed more work. And a writing professor once banned the entire class from killing off characters. He didn’t want us to come to a rough patch in our story and take the easy way out. I didn’t agree with the rule, but it was understandable.
I don’t consider any of that bad advice. Poor judgment, maybe, but not faulty guidance (especially since I didn’t follow it).
The best advice is not really advice at all, but when a publishing professional relates his or her own experience to an aspiring author. Advice is subjective; it’s based upon personal circumstances. If you don’t know the story behind the advice, then it’s impossible to gauge whether or not that advice will work for you.
So don’t give advice. Tell others what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it. Share your experience.
The children’s writing world is filled with many generous professionals who volunteer their time to assist those of us starting out. Never before have I met such a kind and welcoming group of people. I have to say that no one has given me a bad piece of advice yet. And hopefully I won’t steer you wrong, either.