I was revising a chapter on a new writing project and I got bored.
Unfortunately, I started to feel guilty about it.
Daycare was closed due to the pandemic conditions we’ve all come to know too well. Therefore, every minute of the little writing time I could secure every day was as precious as my wonderful kiddo’s laughter.
I had to make the most of it, no matter what.
I had to be productive. Had to. Had to. HAD TO.
« But hooow », I whined. « Oh, I know, I’ll Pinterest it! »
About five minutes later, I fell back on my little writing corner chair, flabbergasted by the amount of writing productivity advice, tips, hacks and tools out there. I was even more « wowed » by the fact that every single one of the advice, tips, etcetera seemed to be the best one ever created by humankind.
There’s no doubt in my mind, dear fellow writers, that you are very well aware of it.
Why do we need the best this or that, I asked myself.
Why do we seek the ultimate best productivity tips?
Shouldn’t we look for the productivity tool that works for us and our writing life/lifestyle?
To summarize: why do we seek advice in the first place?
Why Do We Seek Advice?
Sometimes, we seek advice only to validate our own ideas on a subject, whether it’s related to something at work or regarding our values, beliefs, etc.
We may also seek advice in order to get the thumbs up, the pat on the back, the approval we all crave at one point or another.
Other times, we seek advice because we want to improve, we want to challenge ourselves, we want to ask new questions, open our minds to other ideas, realities, possibilities.
Of course, on the far end of the « seeking advice spectrum », some people never seek advice. Not because they feel they know better than anybody, although some people do honestly believe they know it all, but also because they may be perceived by their peers as weak losers.
Worst, seeking advice may make them feel like next-to-nothing humans. A very inaccurate, horrible feeling indeed.
The perception of seeking advice may have changed over the recent years, consequences of the social media explosion, climate change considerations and pandemic global overwhelmed, but as David A. Garvin and Joshua D. Margolis put it in their paper « The Art of Giving and Receiving Advice« , published in 2015 on HBR:
Receiving guidance is often seen as the passive consumption of wisdom.A. Garvin and D. Margolis
When we seek advice, we feel like we’re taking action in bettering – is that a word?- ourselves or our craft. Even if we don’t actually follow the said advice!
On the other end, not everybody is actually well-equipped to give a piece of advice that will help us. Whether it’s the boss, the author, the hairdresser, not everybody is equal in the face of giving advice.
Now, if giving advice is something we all can learn, we still need to know a bit about the advisers… and what kind of advice is gonna get us somewhere and not stuck between an old problem and a new dilemma.
What Kind of Advice is Good For Us?
As it was said before, we are all well aware of the incredible amount of well-intentioned advisers there are within our beloved writing community.
Many of us, yours truly included of course, are eager to find either new ways to better our writing craft, our writing productivity or our revising and editing skills.
And let’s face it, more than often, the advice we find is telling us what we know already: stop stalling and work.
Although some tips and hacks are indeed very useful, most of the time, it boils down to one universally acknowledged truth. There’s no magic trick to make things go as easy as we like to imagine they shall be.
Still, I do love sharing writing tips and hacks, and talking about my ever ongoing writer quest! Yes, I did study creative writing at university. And yes, over the past twenty years, I learned a lot through the comments and advice of many beta-readers critics my writing projects – yep, I got my writer ego bruised more often than I care to admit, even to these days.
But it doesn’t mean the tips and advice I share are good for your own writer’s lifestyle.
The publishing world has changed so much this past two decades or so. Not only through technologies but because the world is, once again, going through unprecedented changes, on several levels.
Depending on the country we live in, the language we use – I write this blog in English, but I’m a Francophone and all my writing projects are written in French -, the target readers we dream to reach, what we write and how we do it differs.
It took me a while to truly understand that. I could never be like that author who can write 10 000 words a day or this author who can first draft an acceptable novel, and that is Oh So Ok.
As Ilene S. Cohen, Ph.D., a psychotherapist and author put it in her piece in Psychology Today: « Instead of making decisions based on what others would approve of, start making them based on what’s right for you. »
The type of advice that’s good for us writers is the ones who fundamentally help us both in our writing life and our craft.
Here’s hoping this post, plus the ones I wrote before, help you in one way or another.
May all the good words be with you fellow writers. Thanks again for stopping by!
Harvard, by David A. Garvin and Joshua D. Margolis