When you're considering a writing career, everyone wants to give you advice or tell you horror stories about the friend of a friend who tried to become a writer and ended up starving to death in her lonely apartment.
Aside from the scary stories (and I suspect they're told by the same people who like to regale first-time mums with tales of agonizing labor), I think most of what is said is well-intentioned. But is it accurate? Not always. There are a few pieces I wish I'd never heard. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Don't Quit Your Day Job
While it's true that you don't want to go rushing into the literary world without a plan, it's also true that if you want to live as a writer, you're going to have to make the plunge someday. Don't spend precious time waiting for the exact minute when all the stars are aligned and the wind is coming from the right direction. If you must follow some advice, why not make it the advice from the Broadway musical, Wicked? Just close your eyes...and leap!
2. Write What You Know
Do you know that Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of the Tarzan stories, never once set foot in Africa? For that matter, it's a pretty sure bet that he never went to Mars, either. And J.K. Rowling certainly didn't visit Hogwarts before her writing brought it into existence. Writing only what you know is dull. Write what you're passionate about and what you're eager to learn. Write the story you must tell. Everything else will work itself out.
3. Don't Tell Anyone About Your Project
It's true that some writers spend so much time telling others about their work that they never put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and create anything. But as long as you're writing, don't be shy about letting others know about your project. You never know when someone else may help you come up with the perfect plot twist or provide information on a subject you don't know much about.