How Much Advice Is Too Much?

Armchair critic

Call yourself a writer?

Have you ever noticed how many how to articles apparently written by supposedly successful writers are on offer these days? But can they truly call themselves successful I wonder? Most seem to be total unknowns with a chip on their shoulder; completely obsessed with something like the old chestnut show, don’t tell. Then there are the anal retentives, equally obsessed with what they perceive as the misuse of the humble apostrophe and comma.

How to articles are springing up everywhere of late. The social media site Facebook is infested with them. I signed up for a Facebook writer’s group several months back in the naive belief that it would be an outlet for writers to offer work for discussion. Instead, I was disappointed when every day that I went to it I found nothing but endless numbers of how to articles or far worse, someone jealously trashing a successful writer’s work.

To all of these individuals I merely say this – thinking about writing or talking about writing or worrying about writing is not writing.

Unfortunately, these days Goodreads is also infested with the same disease. There are endless discussion groups dedicated to tearing apart the work of successful authors. To give you an example, one of Goodreads’ groups is dedicated to trashing the work of Dan Brown. Who gives a damn about the quality of his writing so long as you enjoy reading it? Dan certainly doesn’t, he’s laughing all the way to the bank. The guy found a formula that works and he’s milking it for all its worth. Good luck to him says I.

It is my firmly held belief that there are far too many failed writers out there spewing bile and bad advice in their new guise of armchair critic. The classic example of this is the number of poorly written reviews for practically any book you care to name, currently found on Amazon. I put it down to green eyed envy on the part of the so-called reviewer, plus their own lack of literary success. Far better that instead of proffering what amounts to their completely unwarranted personal opinion; they should get back to basics and improve their own writing skills. Who knows, one day they may even manage to get something of theirs into print, and to sell. Then they will become the next automatic target for the jealous wannabe writer, drawing attention away from the rest of us.

Now that you’ve all read this, get back to your keyboard/pen and write till your fingers bleed!

8 thoughts on “How Much Advice Is Too Much?

    • I can’t speak for any other writer here Graeme, but whenever I see yet another How To article I cringe. I’ve perused a few of them. In most cases they contradict one another, thereby negating their message.

      If I was asked for advice by someone thinking about writing, I would simply tell them – Don’t think, write!



  1. You’ll get no peace Jack. ‘How to’ is one of the most searched terms on the Internet, so it will live on. I’m just off to learn ‘How to open a coconut’. If I’m lucky, I’ll probably find an instructive video!


      • With some of the people you are referring to Jack, better instruction would be : Hold coconut against your head, and strike with a sharp axe. This would not only open the coconut but maybe remove one more armchair critic from the hoardes. Your instruction of don’t think, write, is very true. I find that once I start writing the ideas grow, and the story can go off at a tangent to where I thought it was going, and usually, the spontaneous writing is better than the planned. The problem with armchair critics, as you rightly point out, they are usually failed writers, artists, photographers or musicians who have nothing better to do than polish their own egos by trying to put down those who are successful, whose acheivments they cannot hope to emulate.


  2. swap a few variables and this describes many of the groups i belong to now, and many of which i am dropping as my world already fills my daily venom quotas in plenty of other ways. it’s a recurring theme. i think i’m also likely to go Col. Kurtz if i see too many more “X# ways or reasons this, that or whatever”. how about a 10 reasons to stop clogging my feed with list articles? seriously, it was funny for a spell – but we’re encroaching meme territory.
    on a lighter anec(d)note, my first and last attempt at a novel – of which i had a single paper draft. remember paper? stupid kid that i was. anyway, my divorcee ex-girlfriend stole the draft and wallpapered her master bathroom with every last page. truthfully it was a much better ending than mine, and i never had the heart to try and reconstruct it. i traded in my Underwood (damn i miss that thing) for a paint brush and a bass guitar. every creative market is saturated now; each medium an overwhelming google search return you couldn’t peruse in 2 lifetimes. i’m sure there’s a big data whitepaper or 2 filled with circular logic that explains it all with infographics…
    i’m sorry, i think i may have inadvertently made your point just now. Or you’re welcome – I can’t tell; it’s too late. take your pick. In the end…the same. Existentialist Marketing – it’s gonna start trending any day now. Or was it nihilist? Haha, well I’m off, lads.


    • Eventually Thomas we all have to cry enough and disassociate ourselves from these thoroughly nasty groups. A while back I found myself banished from one particular so-called writers group merely because the two individuals running it disagreed with my logical approach. 🙂


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