Find Your Own Path 3 comments


path through a beautiful landscape ending at a gate in a patch of sunlight

If you want to achieve creative success of any kind, in any field, you need to find your own path.

If you want to achieve success, you need to find your own path. Click To Tweet

What’s prompted that (somewhat obvious) statement is that I’ve run across an overabundance of heavy-handed writing- and creative advice lately that boils down to: “The only way to succeed is to do this the same way I [the speaker] do it.”

That kind of advice is a terrible lie. More to the point, it’s a terribly dispiriting lie.

Advice that turns you off writing is bad advice Click To Tweet

I don’t know about you, but I find that most of that my-way-or-the-highway advice is founded on all assumptions of all kinds of privilege that have absolutely nothing to do with the realities of my life. And those narrow, blinkered points of view also tend to ignore the many and varied ways that other people have and do go about the art and the business of writing and other creative pursuits.

As a culture, we celebrate a really narrow range of narratives about creative success–and in the process, we ignore/marginalize/erase all kinds of other stories about the fantastically diverse ways people define, pursue, and achieve success in writing and the arts. But if you go digging, you can find those stories and they can be inspiring and instructive.

I want to discuss bad writing advice and privileged writing advice in greater depth with you–we’ll be revisiting these topics. For now, just let me say this:

The only path you need is the one that works for you Click To Tweet

Advice that turns you off your passions is bad advice: ignore it. Advice from people who have no understanding or awareness of your life may not apply to you. Just because people shout advice loudly or fit the model of what we hold up as experts in our culture doesn’t mean they have something helpful to offer you. Look for role models who are working with the same kind of challenges that you are–their advice has the highest likelihood of being relevant to you. There is never just one path. Realize that there are many different paths to writing and the only one you need is the one that works for you.


3 thoughts on “Find Your Own Path

  • Mark Walker

    An excellent point Shaula and an important one for all writers. There is another site I occasionally visit where a lot of the comments tend to be people espousing the one true way to write. This can be extremely detrimental if you are wavering or struggling to find your own way. I think the key thing to remember is if ten people tell you ten different ways to do something there clearly is no one right way, so crack on with what you are doing and make it yours.

    It is a perennial issue though, and I shall look forward to further posts from you on the subject!

  • Shari

    I echo your point of view. There is no one way. What works for you is the best way. Thanks to the internet, we can learn from a diverse group of people.

  • Nicole M. Saad

    Funny, I read that and only one thing came to mind: every single long winded list of all the things a writer shouldn’t do, of reasons why ‘your script is rejected’, of things you should and shouldn’t say in a meeting, of words you should and shouldn’t use in your script are a turn off.

    If I was a beginner — in the sense that I was looking for validation and to live or die by the advice floating out there I’d perhaps not write for a long time because I wouldn’t even begin to know how to find my own voice while shackled with all that seemingly well-intentioned ‘advice’ by most likely non-writers.

    Thankfully, I’m not just starting my first script nor do I care. But there is such a risk to young writers starting out. Writing in general is a daunting task — we all need advice — however my rule has become: choose very carefully who you take it from.

    Advice is meant to help you see the forest from the trees. Help you grow as a writer, help you hone your skill and voice. It is not supposed to ‘judge’ you as deserving or undeserving in the writing community especially based on your content!

    I recently wrote a script where one point of feedback insinuated that the script was not ‘commercial enough’ due to the fact that the leads were three women in a foreign country. Well, DUH! If I wanted to write popcorn and bubblegum I wouldn’t have exactly written a war drama, dear reader!

    Be courageous and tune out the ‘noise’. Find your voice. Find someone who will help you get LOUDER. You have something to say and you absolutely deserve a spot on the team! :)

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