The Funny Thing About Advice

Advice is a funny thing. You never know how it will change another person.

And yet, asking for advice is pretty common. Especially as an interview question. I find myself asking other authors, agents, and editors this very question when interviewing them:

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a published writer?

And that’s when I realized advice is a funny thing.

When I was younger, I was told to color inside the lines.

When I was in my twenties, I was told to think outside the box.

When I was in my thirties, I realized there was no box and I was going to cross the lines and break the boundaries, and it was all based on advice.

“If you really want a career in publishing, then do what needs to be done to make it happen.”

Best. Advice. Ever.

But it’s not the best advice for everyone. Some people can’t do what needs to be done, because they have other priorities or other limitations. They have boxed themselves inside the lines, and they might need a different bit of advice.

So I’m always careful with the advice I give, and I’m always open-minded toward the advice given by others. But maybe that’s just me.

How about you? What’s the best advice you’ve ever given or received?

As always, thanks for stopping by!



  1. I have a couple people who’ve given me bits of advice…these are paraphrased. From my mentor/friend/you: “Let’s make this our year. Make it happen.” & “There is no muse. You sit down and get it done.” From my agent: “You’re a writer. You have to make time to write. Everyday.”
    You give awesome advice, Risa. Thank you! xo

  2. Marisa! Great post and so true. When I first began writing I would look all over for writing advice. Like if I just found out how John Grisham made his coffee each day, then I’d be able to churn out best sellers. But then you get down to the business of writing. And the longer you write and the closer you get to finishing something that approximates good…the more you realize how much John Grisham probably dreads answer getting the advice question in the first place. Because ultimately, it comes down to writing all the time, working really, really hard, and figuring out a way to get the job done. Thanks Marisa! Dan

  3. Very good post, and thought-provoking. I admit I never hesitate to give advice, because I figure it’s up to the person listening to it or reading it to decide if it can help them or not. I can’t really tell you what the best advice I ever got was because I internalize *everything* and it becomes a big mishmash of “what’s right for me.” 🙂

    You’ve given me a different perspective, because maybe not everybody thinks the way I do when receiving advice. I *think* I’m careful to qualify what I say, but I’ll have to pay more attention any time it comes up in the future, to make sure. 🙂

  4. This is such nice, easy reading. And I think what it also says, is that the path to getting published is different for every writer, isn’t it? As with inspiration, it is such a personal, individual destiny.

  5. Marissa,

    I LOVE this post. Thanks so much for sharing. I think someone once told me that a career in publishing is “10% writing, 90% persistence.” A little humorous, but there may be a grain of truth to it!

  6. Love this, and it’s so true. Boxes and lines are neat little ways to tie your dreams up in notions of limitations.

    My great uncle had great advice. ‘Don’t get mad at stupid people. They don’t even know how stupid they are.’ And I love that. It’s about not wasting your energy on useless things.

  7. These comments are all so true…need to personally listen to them! Have tried to give to others the best advice ever given to me (other than ‘Put your butt in the chair and write.): Never, ever give up!!

  8. Great post, and very true! The best advice I’ve recieved is “to finish” there’s no point in leaving a novel after twenty pages to start a new one, which has become a very bad habit for me.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.