Don’t tell me what to do.
Seriously, especially if you have no more room to talk about the subject than I do.
That may not make much sense to you right now, but after this story, I think it might. Yeah, this is another one of those rants turned writing advice posts. They’re quite fun, aren’t they? I try to tie everything in my life to writing. Actually, everything in my life does tie into writing. Because writing is pretty much my life. The part I get to choose and be and do whatever I want. I think every writer feels that way.
The other night at work, a gal who may or may not have worked for the company longer than I have came back to the area where I work, she works in another area (and has never, to my knowledge, worked in my area), and decided to start harassing me about the way I do my job. Basically “Why did you do it this way?” and “Why didn’t you do it this way?” I tell her off, that she’s not my boss and to not ever tell me what to do. A bit more bitching about me not doing my job her way and she says the clincher ‘”Well I guess I’m just smarter than you.” I laughed, walked away, and continued doing my job.
But it stuck with me, especially the last comment. I’ve never gotten along with her so it was just one of those things, right? But my mind kept working at it, turning it into writing advice. Considering what it turned it into, I would think it to be ironic.
Take a look again at that very first sentence.
“Don’t tell me what to do.”
I think when a lot of people write well, writing advice, or advice of anything really, we come off as frankly, a bit of a know-it-all. If I am ever guilty of this, someone please call me out. In the comments, on Twitter, an e-mail, whatever. I don’t mean to do this. But that’s what this post is about.
We all think we have a podium to stand behind because we’ve written for three years, or five years, have one finished book or two in the works, whatever the reason, we think we have a place to speak from because of experience.
While we might, there’s always someone more experienced and honestly, if you come on too strong, it scares newer folks away. At the same time, you don’t always want to be publicly second-guessing yourself, because then those same new folks, who may want to come to you or your blog for advice, don’t think you know what you’re talking about.
All in all, it’s a balancing act. Know what you’re talking about, but don’t come on too hard.
Also, back to that last sentence she said “I guess I’m smarter than you.” I think we all think that, all of us that try to give writing advice anyway. We all like to think that we’re smarter than the people we’re giving advice to, or that we have a higher place on the totem pole than they. But that’s often not true. Often we’re not smarter. And someone on your blog, or your tumblr, or your facebook, or following you on Twitter, they could have more books published than you, they could have far more acclaim than you. And if you come at them like you’re better and smarter than they are, you could alienate the best chance you have to get your name out there.
That’s my advice for the day. Take it for what you will, but I will do my damnedest to live by it.