I actually had to sit down and think about this because most of the writing advice I’ve actually taken to heart over the years came from long-time professionals who have always been honest and sometimes even bitter about such a fickle industry.
One particularly bad piece of writing advice I was once given was: “Write for the market.”
This is a REALLY bad idea unless you happen to love what is currently in fashion. If vampires are all the rage, or bdsm is all the rage — don’t write it unless you love it. Readers can tell if you love something or not. It will come through in their work. I was writing bdsm long before Fifty Shades of Grey came out. But I write it because I enjoy writing about it, not because I thought it would be popular. Back when I started publishing erotic romance, bdsm, like everything else I write, was a niche market.
Another piece of really bad writing advice: “Find a story formula that works and stick to it.”
My aversion to this advice comes from a reader perspective more than a writer perspective. Writers who stick to story formulas eventually start writing the same book over and over and over again. This happens A LOT in romance. As a reader – I have stopped reading certain writers (no matter how good they are) just because I got bored with their books. You can only write the same book so many times before you, the writer, will get bored. Some readers may love repetition and adore the writer who writes the same story again and again. I’m just not one of them. I write what I like to read – and that’s variety. I also like challenging my comfort zone as a writer. Sometimes readers love my “experiments”. Sometimes they don’t. But I’m never bored, and hopefully my readers aren’t either.
So those would have to be two of worst pieces of writing advice I was ever given. I’m sure I’ve been given more, but really, I take most writing advice with a grain of salt. Just write what you love to write. All else be damned.