Why Someone Else’s Writing Advice Can Only Get You So Far

It serves a different purpose

I love quotes. I keep a note in my phone with lines from books, sentences in articles, or lyrics in songs that I really enjoyed reading. On bad days when the motivation to write isn’t there, I’ll pull up the note and turn to some of my favorite writing-related quotes.

One of my recent additions is from Maren Morris’ “Line By Line” song:

“If I tried to sum it up I know I’d get it wrong
Sometimes if it don’t sound right
I apologize, I just said it ’cause it rhymed”

I was drawn to the lyrics because they are a lesson in how to get out of writer’s block. A reminder that sometimes you just need to sit down and write. Some days the poetry won’t flow and the narrative won’t prompt angels to sing your praises. Some days, it’s mechanic. Leaning on your skills instead of your inspiration gets a bad rap, but in reality, it’s a testament to you being a good writer.

Turning to others for inspiration and writing advice helps remind you that you’re a writer at heart, but it’s not meant to carry you to the end of a piece. It’s meant to remind you how to start. Getting past the beginning requires your own self-awareness and skillset.

This is a discouraging perspective only if you let it be.

I used to feel so defeated when I pulled up my note because it emphasized my “stuck.” I wasn’t ready to admit that I had agency over what happened next because then this meant that feeling “stuck” was more a decision than an imperative. One step towards owning your agency is working to hone writing as a skill and noticing the environment that makes the writing easier to stick with.

I sit with my laptop and headphones on. I make my world as small as possible so that all that is left is me and the words I can write. I leave the “shoulds” and “coulds” on the other side of the music playing in my ears and just follow the keyboard wherever it’s trying to lead me. I ideate beforehand if starting is proving to be the hardest part. I also find it helpful to jot down headlines as a north star for the pieces I can write.

Don’t let other’s writing advice become the voice behind your intuition because it drowns out your own instinct. Turn to them for a head start. Listen to your own instincts for how to keep going because your intuition isn’t broken, sometimes it’s just tired. You have the skillset required to give it small wins and to help it build confidence. Use it.

I write about creativity, mental health, grief, and how to cope with life’s everyday challenges on VivNunez.com. Follow along on my Instagram for mini-essays on the same topics, and sign up for a weekly newsletter of encouragement.

I write daily about creativity, grief and mental health. https://www.instagram.com/vivnunez/

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