Forums can be helpful to a writer – full of sage advice about the craft and how to handle some of the common problems that crop up in every writer’s life. That is, of course, if you can find one that is not dominated by “the few” and keeps some people’s caustic attitudes in check.
At the same time, the internet does not discriminate. Not every peson on line is a well honed writer. People with no particular experience or basis for their words can be equally quick to give advice. Sometimes, that advice is sensible stuff, but sometimes it is way off base or perpetuates the kind of thinking about writing that must honestly be called “bad advice.”
So how can we know, especially if we are newbies? Clearly if the internet does not discriminate, we must.
There is a forum where I pop in from time to time. A question was asked about the most common mistakes new writers make. I feared, so before the line could fill up with tons of advice, I offered this top ten:
1. Not writing (for whatever reason).
2. Waiting for the muse or inspiration (or whatever) to strike.
3. Dreaming about selling a million copies and winning the Nobel.
4. Too much emphasis on characters at the expense of plot
5. Too much emphasis on plot at the expense of voice and style
6. Too much emphasis on voice and style at the expense of characters.
7. Trying too hard to make a point (preachy)
8. Wandering down every rabbit trail thinking it is a reflection of genius (pointless/boring)
9. Giving up.
10. Paying too much attention to what other people say, including this top ten list.
You may or may not agree with the above, but I particularly want to point out number 10. You see, any information gleaned on a forum or advice received from an on-line group or any writing blog, including this one, must be taken with a proverbial pound of salt. Ultimately, you are the one who is writing your vision and you must decide how best to do that. This is not to say the advice of other will never resonate with your soul. But you must ultimately be your own writer and discover on your own terms if it works…or not.