According to R.L. Stine, author of the popular Goosebumps series, the worst writing advice given to writers is as follows:
- Write from your heart.
- Write what you know.
When I read Zachary Petit’s interview with R.L. Stine in the November/December 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, I was taken aback that Mr. Stine would say writing from your heart and writing what you know is the worst advice given to writers. Mr. Stine said, “Well, I hate it when authors come into a school and they say to kids, “Write from your heart, write from your heart, only write what you know, and write from your heart. I hate it because it’s useless.” Ouch!
Mr. Stine made a good point by saying, “I’ve written over 300 books — not one was written from my heart. Not one. They were all written for an audience, they were all written to entertain a certain audience.” Publishing is a business and most publishers are in business to make money; however, it would behoove them to understand that marketing and solving problems is a part of the business of writing as well. Authors are in the business of marketing their books and solving various problems from self-help to educating; from entertaining to inspiring. Again, it is a business.
R.L. Stine pointed out that if authors only write from their heart or write what they know, they’ll become blocked. This is true. Their imagination goes out the window along with pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. It’s good to try different genres, tones, voices and styles of writing. You won’t know what you’re good at if you don’t try it. And, you may find that you prefer one genre over another.
I’m guilty of telling writers to write from the heart and write what they know. Of course, this was the ‘friendly’ advice I was given; I passed it along to my fellow writers. Perhaps, R.L. is correct that writing from the heart and only writing what you know is the worst advice given to writers. Who knows … Then again, Mr. Stine is a famous and well paid author. Perhaps, he does know what he’s speaking about.
What’s the worst writing advice given to you? Share.