We’ve collectively read thousands of pieces of writing advice.
And while you’ll find a lot of great info out there, there are a few popular mantras that just aren’t always useful or true.
Here they are, along with what you can do instead:
“Write at an elementary-school level.”
This isn’t helpful. Instead, write at your audience’s level. If you’re in a space with high-level readers who use a very specific vocabulary, you can take advantage of that.
It’s all about context.
“Stop using phrases like ‘I think’ and ‘I feel.’”
This bad advice applies to communications at work.
When you remove a phrase like “I feel,” you fundamentally change the meaning of what you’re saying.
Your writing goes from a subjective opinion to an objective assertion.
Instead, make the decision case by case.
“Write how you talk.”
Writing saves the world from our roundabout way of talking. A better interpretation of this advice is to write naturally.
Know your audience and write for them.
“Always write short sentences.”
We’ve seen this one pop up on Twitter.
In reality, many of the world’s best sentences would be considered run-ons.
Instead of taking this advice, vary your sentence length and build up to the big ones.
In a field like screenwriting, you might use shorter sentences relative to writing a scientific report.
“Don’t use adverbs.”
You’re often told to stay away from adverbs. That’s because they’re overused.
A better rule?
Only use an adverb if it makes a real impact on the tone or emotional impact of what you’re writing.
A final piece of advice
Remember, only a Sith deals in absolutes.
All advice you get in writing and marketing should be taken in context and broken when appropriate.
If you’re ever given a piece of advice as an absolute, the person is either wrong, or a red-lightsaber-wielding movie villain.