This week's blog prompt is "giving or taking advice--how it can help." Of course, that assumes one wants the advice. Unwanted advice most often comes unsolicited and then becomes ignored.
My own reaction to advice is mixed.
When I participated in a large (over 50,000 members) Facebook group geared to writers helping other writers, I dispensed advice to those who asked for it. It's the way of the internet: post a question, receive answers. Unfortunately, writers posted the same questions over and over again. Many of those questions concerned the very basics of writing and publishing, up to and including requests for other writers to develop ideas, plots, and content. People pay me to do that for them.
If you haven't learned the basics of writing and storytelling, then take a class or three and educate yourself before attempting to write a book. Or hire a ghostwriter.
Then came the inevitable questions that anyone with two brain cells to rub together could answer for him/herself if only he/she bothered to engage in a few minutes of research. Google is your friend. Their utter lack of resourcefulness appalled me.
When I started writing for publication, I didn't have the internet. I had to go to the library and check out guides such as Writers Market and The Literary Marketplace. Or I bought the guides from the local bookstore. If a writer's too damned lazy to do his/her own research, then I'm not going to do it for him/her.
After several months of fielding repeated questions from lazy wannabes, I canceled my subscription to the forum. I enjoy helping people who appreciate that help, but I dislike being taken advantage of. The entitlement attitude that I owed people the benefit of my hard-earned expertise offended me.
Of course, I myself have received some good advice through online forums. One such forum lit the proverbial light bulb with regard to strong writing. Aha! Now I really get it! And into practice that pearl of wisdom went. For the most part, I don't ask questions on these forums, even if I do read questions posted by others and the responses received. Sometimes I can and do add to the learning process; other times I have nothing particularly valuable to add. I get some good information that way and some not-so-good information. I've learned to determine who knows what he/she talks about and who's just faking it.
Book reviews deliver some of the most effective lessons learned. As I've told others, I don't learn from praise. Sure, I like praise. I love positive reviews. But I learn from the critical reviews: detailed reviews help me become a stronger, better writer. I take them as advice. Sometimes, like most unsolicited and unwanted advice, I disregard it. Sometimes I acknowledge that the reviewer has a good point and internalize it for later implementation. It all depends.
The caution about advice is that you just might get what you wish for, but that doesn't mean you'll like it.
So, ask me for advice if you dare.
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