Least Useful Writing Advice

 This morning, in browsing the internet, I came across Stacey May Fowles’ latest book.


I loved Fowles’ novel Infidelity and so I was naturally curious and eager to read about her new book, which, in turn, led me to Stacey May’s answer to


What is the least useful writing advice you ever received?

You see, CBC Books runs a series titled Magic 8:

We ask our favourite Canadian authors for the questions they always wish they were asked. We put those questions into a hat, randomly pull out 8, and send them to other Canadian authors.

So it was writer Patrick deWitt who asked Fowles the question. This was her answer:

“Write every day.” There’s no better way to hate or become frustrated with a thing than to force yourself to do it when you just can’t or really don’t want to. I do think sometimes you have to work through writing difficulties but it’s also so important and necessary to take breaks when your gut tells you to. Sometimes simply not writing is actually good for your writing.

Fowles’ latest book? It’s about baseball.

Fowles is an avid Toronto Blue Jays fan and is editor of Best Canadian Sports Writing, baseball for Jays Nation and The Athletic, and is author of the popular weekly Baseball Life Advice e-newsletter. She has also won tons of writing awards.

Sounds like a fun read. Just in time for the baseball season.

36 thoughts on “Least Useful Writing Advice

  1. “it’s also so important and necessary to take breaks when your gut tells you to.”—Yes! I try to write every day, but some days I cut myself slack if it just can’t happen, either due to other commitments or just extreme lack of motivation. We all need a break from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My own experience has taught me that forcing my writing is a waste of time. When the flow is not there I try to see the big picture such as doing stuff related to writing, like blogging, writing an acknowledgment page or going for a walk in nature – that always seems to work.
      Thanks, Carrie for your comment. Always appreciated. Have a great weekend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love hearing this suggestion, like giving me permission to skip those days I’m just not into writing. They’re rare, but when they hit, I’ve always felt I’d gain something by slogging through it. Maybe not! Maybe I’ll just write lousy prose.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Here I am right now trying to convince myself to get back to my in progress but my body just doesn’t seem to want to go there. No sense fighting it but rather trust that when I do get back at my writing I will be more efficient. Hopefully. Thanks for your comment, Jacqui.


  3. In a perfect world it’s good to write every day, but some days I need to distance myself to rejuvenate, hence Stacey’s last line ‘Sometimes it’s good not to write.” . 🙂 And so funny, I was looking for a book on my shelf today and came across Stacey’s book which I’ve had for some time now and haven’t yet read. You recommended it to me. 🙂 I”ll get there! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with you when you say you can’t force creativity. It certainly doesn’t endear me to writing when told I must. (And it’s been so hard to find a “muse” while writing in rainy NE Ohio.) I need sunshine and have been struggling with the last of my Katherine LeVay series, aargh. Unfortunately great ideas emerge around 2am and I’m too lazy to get outta bed and write them down! 🙂
    By the way Carol, I’m now receiving your posts via email so I don’t miss any more of them! So grateful for your support as well, ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ellie for being here. Your presence is always a joy. Good luck with your Katherine LeVay series. Sometimes I find that my mind is blank or I don’t have any enthusiasm for the project I’m working on and so I pray for enthusiasm and inspiration. May you have both. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol, I almost felt like cheering when reading her advice!! Writers are repeatedly told they HAVE to write EVERY day so it was so refreshing to see Fowles say that writers don’t need to beat themselves up trying to write every day and that ‘There’s no better way to hate or become frustrated..’!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s amazing how many “writing” rules -at least I – just took for granted and “obeyed.” Fowles’ admission gives the writer permission to write according to her own flow.
      Always nice to see you here, Annika. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I liked this post which is really aimed at writers and authors but when I am tired, I think “forcing myself to do art is not relaxing and becomes quite taxing!” This sounds like my fellow blogging authors consensus on writing, too! 🙂
    I was trying to buy a paperback version of your “Not by Design” but cannot seem to find a link just a Kindle one on Amazon. Please let me know if it is available in hard copy! (?) Thanks, dear Carol. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There’s nothing more demoralizing than staring at a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen and feeling empty, feeling like I must not be a “real” writer because at the moment, I got nothing. Thank for the quote. While it’s wonderful to meet some arbitrary word count, it’s just as wonderful to take a break and let the voices in my head go quiet for a while. Silence sometimes is the best medicine 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lately it seems the urge to leave the singing keys is deeper and more compelling. It may be that I feel I am entertaining a shrinking audience, or there are so many serious things to challenge in the world that fiction seems frivolous – or it may be, of course, I am just getting old…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. There is a lot of advice out there for writers that is not very helpful, because every writer is so different. I enjoyed reading this post with good advice from Stacey May Fowles, who is clearly a successful writer and knows how to manage the craft well. Great post Carol~~

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Writing advice is so subjective because every writer is different. Great post! I’m a fellow writer who’s new to blogging, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers.
    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good question (and answer) to present to us, Carol. I never would have selected that as an answer but it does make sense. I don’t write everyday because of other obligations. But when I wrote full time, I made sure to take a day or two away from the keyboard. It’s a good refresher, adds fresh perspective. A must practice for every writer, I do believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Least Useful Writing Advice | Melissa York

  13. Amen to that. In my pursuit to improve my craft, there has never, ever, been a month when I wrote every day.**
    At best, I managed a few weeks of nonstop writing, and this was due to a challenge.
    **Nanowrimo and Script Frenzy, however, are another matter. Those are events designed around carving out space in our lives once a year to push past our limitations and achieve a goal.
    I suspect this advice won’t ever really go away, so it’s up to authors to remember to think for themselves, try different methods, and never be afraid to say “No thanks. I tried it, but that didn’t work for me.” to unhelpful advice.

    Liked by 1 person

I'd love to hear your comments

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s