The Best/Worst Writing Advice We’ve Ever Received

by Tee Tate

Question Everything

I’m not much of a creative writer, but, as a journalist and a reviewer, I’m always thinking about something one of my professors — the great Dr. Lee — once told me (and still does). It’s the fact that you can never afford to take the opinions, perceptions or definitions of another as gospel. And this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As writers, we’re always exploring new mental terrain, but we’re also observing the actions and ideas of both our contemporaries and those who came before us. When we have to draw conclusions or ask questions — whether it be through fiction or essays — we can’t avoid encountering responses already given and solutions already put forth. Linking ourselves to the great and ancient chain of human knowledge — and subsequently drawing from it — can be a beautiful thing, but only if we take the time to balance the pieces of that puzzle with our own inquiries and with a keen eye for the ignored. Question everything, whether it’s some mundane fact you’re sourcing for a news article or an abstract train of thought you’ve just begun upon reading that new novel. In the end, idol worship, in any form, too quickly becomes idle worship. And finding the answers — or just asking the questions — yourself is worth much more than any quick theoretical fix. It’s about finding your own truth; and one of word of truth, as Solzhenitsyn said, outweighs the whole world.

-Sam Spokony

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