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Taking advice about your writing: You don't always have to take it.

Paradoxically, I’m going to give you some advice about taking advice about your writing.

As an English Literature master's student, I do a lot of writing. Admittedly, not much creative writing is involved; I primarily write long essays about how children are a threat to ordered Victorian society in Oliver Twist and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or about how Machiavellian the leaders are in Christopher Marlowe’s plays. Don’t get me wrong, I love academic writing. But it can be very restrictive, and often I must take the advice of lecturers to make the grades. Apparently, I have issues with comma splicing.

That’s what I love about creative writing. Although people will tell you that even creative writing should follow certain rules, you can, to an extent, ignore them.

Use the clichéd metaphor if that’s what feels right to you, and if that’s what fits into your narrative.

Don’t let others dictate how you write. Personally, whether it’s an essay or a story, I like to kick back on my big squishy sofa with a cup of tea and something easy on Netflix. Maybe some Gilmore Girls or How I Met Your Mother. But I also know other people who wouldn’t be able to work like that. Which is fine. My biggest advice for writing is to listen to Ol’ Blue Eyes, and do it your way.

Have The Smiths blasting at full volume while snuggled on your bed with your laptop; sit in complete silence at a desk; lay on the sofa watching Netflix with a pad of paper. Do what is comfortable for you.

When I was at school, the advice was always to do your homework sitting at a table in silence. I tried that, and it never worked for me, so I found my own way of writing, the way that feels the most comfortable for me, and I found that I am much more productive for ignoring my teacher’s advice!

Now, that’s not to say you shouldn’t follow advice, but only advice that feels right to you; don’t religiously follow the advice of everyone who throws some your way. Some of it may be worth a try, because you may try it and find it’s the thing that’s been missing from your writing all along. But if somebody says “I think that character should fall in love with that one” and you disagree, hey, it’s your story.

To borrow a famed cliché, stay true to yourself.

Advice by Hannah Brown

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