Writing – Too Much Advice?

When I attended the Writing Industries Conference earlier this year, one of the strongest pieces of advice was from the keynote speaker, Graham Joyce, who said that writers shouldn’t confine themselves to one area of writing.  They should take their writing opportunities where they can.

This is sound advice and in many ways goes along with the old saying of never putting all your eggs in one basket.  For some time I’ve been thinking about other areas of writing and trying to expand my repertoir and when I started using Twitter I thought it would be an ideal way to keep abreast of all things writing, follow other writers and find great links to writing related sites.  This is one of the beauties of Twitter – it is perfect for making these connections and finding the information you need, particularly if you’re a writer starting out on the road and need all the advice you can find.

Unfortunately, I also think it can be a problem and deliver too much advice.

If I read every article and news piece that were posted by the people I follow on Twitter I’d never have the time to do my game writing, let alone the non-game writing I try to fit in.  Twitter and the internet in general are wonderful, but it often feels to me like there is simply too much advice out there.  For the would-be novelist who is having to fit in their writing during the evening and at weekends, reading all these articles must seriously eat into their writing time.  But when anyone is starting out, any advice you can take on board is incredibly valuable.  Or is it?

Without doubt, there is lots of good advice to be had, but there is a lot that’s either bad, misguided or written in a way that’s controversial and the controversy can sometimes hide the message or the quality of the advice.  There is a lot of repetition, too, which can be frustrating.  If you’ve already read a useful piece on character development you don’t want other articles written from the same standpoint but ones that offer further detail or another view altogether.

Twitter can be a valuable filter if you learn to use it as such.  If you follow people whose opinions you can respect, the links they post are likely to be more pertinent to you.  This is not something you can latch onto overnight, so it’s important that you use and develop Twitter as a proper network that feeds you the kind of information you will find interesting and useful.

We’re all in danger of being swamped by too much information, too many links and repetition that wastes our time, but we have to control this in the best way we can if we need to maximise our creative time.


  1. Agree, agree, agree…As someone who pumps out advice on a daily basis I would suggest writers pick their advice givers with care (more advice) sorry Steve!

  2. Dont apologise. I’m not against advice, I’m against getting swamped by advice, particularly if it muddies the usefulness of the advice.

    Actually, your Twitter post links are among those I tend to click on more than most.

  3. I’m newish to Twitter (@andrewwille). What do you or others suggest as practical ways of filtering the information to prevent overload?

    So far, I’ve been adding certain Tweeters to Lists rather than Following them. Does that make most sense, or are there other practical suggestions?

  4. I wholeheartedly agree! When I hit advice and information overload I wrote the following blog post: http://janetravers.blogspot.com/2010_02_01_archive.html

    That being said, I think it is a growth process; that you’ll read everything going until you develop a certain level of confidence in your own writing voice. It’s a stage that all new writers need to go through.

  5. Andrew, from my perspective it’s simply a case of learning who give the most value with their links, which isn’t something you can do instantly or automatically. I’ve been on Twitter for six months and the value is still rising for me.

    One valuable thing I found was that if there is someone you admire, it’s worth looking at the people they follow as you can often find gems that way.

    Jane, I agree; the growth process is important for us all. There can be certain false points along the path, though, where you can think you know more than you do. The firsst really major one for me was when I knew that no matter how good I might become, there was still an awful lot more to learn than I had time left to live. 🙂

  6. I agree, and perhaps I may self-interestedly recommend my weekly round-up of best tweets for writers, where I curate the best advice?


  7. Thanks Jane, that’s a very useful looking blog post. It just goes to show – it’s all about finding the right links and the right people to follow.