Why Advice From Writing ‘Experts’ Isn’t Always Trustworthy

You can’t take every piece of advice to heart.

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At my job, we write a lot about things other people did to achieve things — like how so-and-so changed their diet to lose weight or how famous person x mastered work-life balance.

People love reading about how other people made success happen. Because they want success to happen for them, too, but can’t figure out how to do it.

So they trust the experts — or maybe the celebrities they recognize and feel they can trust.

I understand why advice from “experts” is so attractive. I love hearing high-profile writers talk about their processes, their routines, how they structure and balance out their lives.

But not every piece of advice they give is sacred. When they speak, their words don’t automatically become law.

Are there writers that wake up before 5 a.m. every day and meet their daily personal quotas before they head off to their full-time jobs? Absolutely.

But just because they do it doesn’t mean you have to — or that you should.

Every writer is different. Everyone’s process is different. We all have our own preferences, our own peak productivity points throughout the day, our own schedules and advantages and roadblocks.

You can’t take every word of advice and apply it directly to your everyday life. What works for one person might not work for you — and too many writers aren’t able to accept that’s OK.

But it is. It’s fine. And in better news, you don’t even have to stop paying attention to expert writers’ advice. You just have to learn to pick and choose which quotes, strategies, and suggestions do and don’t fit into your life as a writer.

I would love to wake up before 5 a.m. every day and spend three hours writing before I start my day job. But I physically and mentally can’t do that. That doesn’t mean I’m a failure or a lazy writer. It just means I have to find three hours at other points during the day to write instead. That’s what works for me.

You have to figure out what works for you. And yes, that means trying different things until you get it “right.” And changing up your routine every now and then when the routines and strategies that worked before suddenly don’t work as well anymore.

Writing experts know a lot about writing. But ultimately, what they know best is what they did to get them to where they are today. They can suggest things you can do to get where you want to be, and you should take those suggestions seriously.

But don’t get discouraged if you try something and it doesn’t work. Writing is all about repetition and persistence. If one thing won’t cut it, try something else. And don’t stop.

We’re not all experts on everything. But we’re experts in ourselves. Become your own expert and reach toward your writing goals. You might even be able to check some of them off sooner rather than later.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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6 thoughts on “Why Advice From Writing ‘Experts’ Isn’t Always Trustworthy

  1. I was recently discussing this with a friend, the difference between “believing something is true” and “realizing something is true as you read it.” It’s definitely easy to allow the speaker to inform your opinion about what they are saying, when the truth is a statement should (in theory) have the same value regardless of who is expressing it.
    Of course sometimes we are more ready to accept a statement because of who is expressing it, but that’s also an opportunity to learn and reevaluate what we believe.

  2. I appreciate writers who give out pointers on how to be experts at things but there are so many variables, they can only say something general at best but individual readers have to figure out everything else for themselves.

    1. Exactly. Advice given out to the masses usually has a call-to-action meant to help every individual figure out what to do with it on their own time. I always try to make sure I remind readers that it’s OK if something I suggest doesn’t work — but anything is worth trying anyway.

  3. Sometimes, even in the blogging word, bloggers give advice how to be a successful blogger even if they have just written around ten posts. Does that make them experts in the blogging world? I don’t think so. And you’re right, “We’re not all experts on everything. But we’re experts in ourselves”.

    1. Yeah, that’s one reason I didn’t start giving advice right away. You really don’t know what works until you’ve spent a lot of time doing something. I think a lot of people just want to feel like they’re helping someone, and who knows, maybe they are in their own way. It’s definitely important to be aware of whose advice you trust though, depending on the topic. :)

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