Thursday, June 30, 2011

Consider Advice Advisedly

by CK

Here's some wise counsel on taking counsel:

"Older / more experienced / more convincing writers may offer rules and varieties of advice. Consider what they say. However, don’t automatically give them charge of your brain, or anything else ─ they might be bitter, twisted, burned-out, manipulative, or just not very like you."

-- A.L. Kennedy


...criticism, even if it comes from credentialed authority figures, is often useless to the writer who does not also possess a somewhat accurate sense of the quality of his or her own work. Opinions of art are ultimately subjective; moreover, criticism is a craft, and like any craft, not everyone is skilled at it. A writer with too little self-confidence will take all criticism at equal value, and will end up pleasing no one by attempting to please everyone. On the other hand, a writer with too much self-regard will take little if any advice at all, no matter how tactful or perceptive it is, and as a result will be unlikely to improve his or her skills beyond mediocrity. The ability to perform an accurate self-assessment of one's work in the light of responses to it is crucial if a writer is to distinguish between criticism that is useful and will help to improve one's craft, and criticism that is wrong-headed for one reason or another, and best disregarded.

--Dexter Palmer


...perhaps the best piece of writing advice that no single person has confided in me but many an author has opinioned is that no criticism or advice is absolute, and to take even the most revered master's advice with as many or as few grains of salt as one sees fit. We should be receptive but we should also be critical, both of our own writing and the advice we are given about it, and in the end whatever works best for the individual works best for the individual.

-- Jesse Bullington

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