Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to handle writing advice

Take writing advice--or any advice, for that matter--like a grain of salt.

You can read all of the books about writing (or any other subject) you can, but until you sit your butt in a chair and put words onto a page, you'll never be on your way to greatness.  Just simply get in there and do the work, and filter out what advice works best for you.

A perfect example of this would be my Dad.  He went to school to be an auto mechanic, and worked successfully as one for several decades.  But his education didn't start when he went to technical college.  As a kid, he worked on engines with his dad.  In a way, he recieved the best schooling there is: hands-on.

In other words, he went in there and did the work.

This is a tale my Dad will tell on occasion.  While in school, one of his teachers tried to fool the students by disabling something on an engine--I never had a head for mechanical stuff; I know some of the basics but his mechanical bug never wore off on me and this is the best way I can describe what happened.  He told the students that they had to use some diagnostic equipment in order to find out what was wrong.  My Dad leaned in and listened to the engine, and told the teacher exactly what was wrong.

"How could you know that?" the teacher asked.

"That's what's wrong with it, isn't it?" my Dad said.

"Of course," the teacher said back, astonished.  "But how could you know?  Without hooking the machine to it?"

My Dad smiled and said, "Because I just know."

Because he had worked on engines for so long, he probably has the equivalent of a doctorate in automobile mechanics.  But they don't have pieces of paper to hang on the wall for that.  He doesn't need it though.

He's put in the time.

He knows.

When are you going to start putting in the time?


  1. So what was wrong with the engine?


    1. The instructor plugged the EGR valve. Sorry this took so long to get the answer.

  2. Thanks, I'll find out. Good question - I should know the answer. It would've made the story I tell better.

  3. Sorry this took so long to get the answer. The instructor plugged the EGR valve.