Posted in Writing

“You only have ONE CHANCE to tell this story!” (and why this advice is utter rubbish)

Good afternoon, Cyberspace!

There are about a million and one tips and tricks that people just LOVE to blurt out when it comes to the struggle of writing, aren’t there? Writers love to give other writers encouragement. NON-writers love to give writers encouragement.

Pinterest loves to give writers encouragement

And I’m willing to bet that all of you have heard this lovely piece of advice at one time or another:

This is your ONE CHANCE to tell this story! This is your story, your words, your world that you have built from nothing! Own it! You have one chance!”

In fact, I’ll admit it–I’m completely guilty of flinging out this little line when it comes to giving writing help.

And I’m sure that this particular piece of advice comes from the well-meaning encourager trying to tell people that their story is 100% uniquely their own and only they can tell the story the way that they want to tell it and they shouldn’t worry about throwing ALL OF THE THINGS into their story because, again, their beautiful minds are unique and perfect and all that–

HOWEVER.

I have come to the firm conclusion that this is one of the most rubbish pieces of advice that I have ever heard in my entire life.

And here’s why.


“You only have ONE CHANCE to tell this story!” (and why this advice is utter rubbish)

It Is Completely Crippling To The Creative Mind

Why, yes. You heard me correctly.

I said crippling.

Let’s let that sink in for just a moment.

When someone says that I only have one chance to tell a story, it makes me begin to hyperventilate.

Why? Because I do not like being told I only have one shot, sir.

In fact, it irritates me immensely, wot.

See, the wonderful thing about writing is that there are many chances. And when I say many, I really mean thousands.

I even came up with a smol song for all you writers out there.

One, Two, Three, Four, Let Us Draft A Little More. Five, Six, Seven Eight Nine Ten, Write ‘The End’, Begin Again!

You’re welcome.

I mean, any writer knows that a single story has multiple do-overs. So when this little writerly advice tries to tell me that I only have one shot, it is my inclination to respond with–

Then how in the world am I on the fiftieth draft of my novel, my good sir???*

Have I been miraculously blessed with the neverending one chance? Did I forget to clock into the ONE CHANCE machine?

Have I *gasp* broken the system???

No. The fact remains that there are multiple chances to write this story. You’re going to go through about a million different drafts whilst crying tears of shame because you cannot seem to finish the enigma-of-a-book that is ever-changing.

One chance? I think not.

(*why yes, I am aware that I’m only on my second draft, thank you for noticing this most glaring exaggeration)

And another thing–

It Makes Me Feel Like I Have To Include ALL OF THE THINGS To Avoid Any #REGRET

Something else that really bugs me about this particular piece of advice is that it makes me feel like I have to include ALL of the things, just in case I regret not including them later.

I mean, sure I’m writing a story about Evil Scientific Experimentation now, but what if I want to write about Evil Scientific Experimentation in the future? And what if *gasp* IT’S SLIGHTLY SIMILAR TO WHAT I’M WRITING NOW?

What then? Did I already use my one chance to write about Evil Scientific Experimentation? What if my future idea is better than my present idea, but I already published my present idea???

WHAT DO YOU DO??????

“WHOOPS! Sorry, friend! You only got ONE CHANCE. Better luck next time!”

See, something you guys might not realize about me is that I am absolutely paranoid when it comes to running out of something, especially creativity. I never even used my stickers as a child because I would then, obviously, have no stickers. I just kept them in their nice little books and let them waste away in my junk drawer because I wanted to make sure I used them on the PERFECT thing, when what I really should have done was just stickered up the entire house and also my face because I used to do that, as well.

#tmi

Getting back to my main point, when someone tells me that I can only do something–such as writing about Evil Scientific Experimentation–one time, my brain immediately goes into overdrive and begins thinking of all the different directions that the story could go, and also tries to find loopholes to incorporate all of those ideas into one story, because I’m terrified of never getting to use that insanely awesome idea ever again.

So, naturally, I end up with a creepy old dude in the basement of an abandoned hospital doing experimentation on monkeys and rats and also humans whilst trying to invent the world’s biggest donut.

And this is a problem.

Because idea one would have evil scienctist #1* experimenting on monkeys to stop the immense growth of back hair, and the second would have evil scientist #2 experimenting on rats to make a formula to cure the world of pimples, and evil scientist #3 would be experimenting on humans to make them bright and shiny and blue so that they would be appeasing to the aliens who invaded the earth two moons ago.

(i’m not sure where the donut ties in, to be honest)

Do you see my problem here? Do you see it?

DO YOU?

(*that is a number sign, you technological peasant. this is what normal people used to use before hashtags)

Basically, because I think I’m rambling far too much and probably not forming coherent sentences right now, here is what I’m trying to say:

Write what you want, whenever you want, as many times as you want, and do not be afraid if your stories have similar elements, because each story will be unique no matter what.

wow. that was a lot easier to write than this entire post.

Can we just agree that we won’t restrict ourselves to the ONE CHANCE philosophy anymore? There are millions of drafts we have to wade through in the writing process. Don’t be afraid to mess up and be creative and just write whatever pops into your head, even if you’re worried it won’t make sense to anyone else, or even to you.

Let’s not be afraid to write because we’re striving for perfection in a world that offers none. Writing is a beautiful, chaotic mess.

Embrace that fact, my smol crumbling. Embrace it.


Turns out that this Smudge was more of a rant than anything actually helpful… OOPS! I hope I making some coherent sense and didn’t just word-vomit all over you guys…

So anyway! Are there any pieces of writing advice that you just can’t stand? Would you like to see me debunk more terrible writing advice in the future? Do you actually like this piece of writing advice that I totally just ripped to shreds before your very eyes in a very non-coherent and incredibly confusing fashion? Let us talk about ALL OF THE THINGS down in the comments below! I shall make sure to bring the cookies.

*flings cookies in the air and disappears*

(the cookies I just flung are not, in fact, the cookies I shall be feeding you [that would be unsanitary, folks])

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Author:

Christian, writer, blogger, dreamer, and full-time dragon enthusiast. I also like to fling cookies everywhere. Preferably at your face.

24 thoughts on ““You only have ONE CHANCE to tell this story!” (and why this advice is utter rubbish)

  1. I liked your writing advice rant. I can see how the advice works if someone is worried that their story is too similar to OTHER people’s stories. But the One Chance in view of your own stories being similar to each other? Oh, I have felt that paranoia too, though I never connected it to that advice before. It just always haunts me when I come up with a heroine who is too much like the others, or another banished prince, whatever.

    So thank you for saying that there are, in fact, THOUSANDS of story possibilities and one can try to write them all even if they are VERY similar.

    Because the Regret paranoia is very real and I rather think it’s the main thing stalling my stories!

    Also, I did the same thing with most of my stickers, keeping them neat and never using them. Tsk.

    We must use ALL of the creative resources we have available to us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, why thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed my ranting. (I do love me a good rant) YESSSSS! I can SORT OF understand this advice when taken in that context (where you’re comparing to another published author, or something) but when you start to compare yourself to yourself…

      It ain’t pretty.

      I’m so glad I’m not alone on this!!! And yes!!! I do believe that there are thousands of story ideas, even if they’re similar. There are always going to be similar elements in every story, and I think that it’s perfectly okay to embrace this sometimes. But not, like, keep rewriting the same story over and over and over… (I feel like I said this in the post… XD )

      Exactly! I’m being stalled by the regret paranoia, as well!! But we should never let that stall us!!!

      Oh my word, I’m not alone on that????? I thought I was the only one who was really weird with my stickers!!! This is joyous news, indeed!!!!

      I totally agree!!! The amazing thing about creativity is that, the more you use it, the more you have. I’m still trying to learn that, though. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, I love this! I like to think, “This is YOUR story. If YOU don’t write it, who will? And if you don’t write it NOW, when?”

    Hmm now this makes me want to stop reading my book/doing bloggy stuff and go plan my novel.

    AND THANN YOU FOR YOUR FINAL ADVICE. I’m planning a fantasy novel right now and I’m scared because my plot (what exists of it???) seems super generic and not at all original. 😥

    Great post!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh! Okay, now I can totally understand THAT advice! Understanding that your story is uniquely your own is absolutely wonderful. It’s just the whole ONE CHANCE mentality always makes me nervous, and thus began the rantastic post. XD

      (and also, the part about writing it NOW is something that I really needed to hear, so THANK YOU, MY FRIEND!)

      EEK! Yes!!!! Don’t worry if it’s generic! It is YOUR STORY and this is your ONE CHANCE–wait.

      Let me change this.

      This is YOUR story, and even if has been done a million and one times before, only you can put the words on the page the way that you want them to be.

      As many times as you want.

      And also, if you’re writing this ‘super generic’ story, then it seems to me as if you’re not content with how it’s been done before. And to this I must say that you DEFINITELY need to write your story!!!

      Thank you so much!!!! XD

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lol! I loved how you literally just ranted for an entire post about one piece of writing advice! I wish I had that talent! 😛 But seriously, I did love this post! I had never really thought about it before, but I completely agree with you. That is a bunch of rubbish! My “one chance” had been spent already a million times over. Thanks once again for the wonderfully enlightening post, Kenzie!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I considered about 3/4’s of the way through going back and ranting about multiple pieces of writing advice, but then I was just like NAH! and kept going, haha! XD It is a quality trait to have, for sure. XD Aww! Thank you so much!!! I’m so glad I actually made coherent sense and didn’t just ramble aimlessly? Although, I think I sort of DID ramble aimlessly, haha!! Exactly! Complete rubbish I tell you!

      Thank you SO much!!! Your comments are always so encouraging and never fail to make me smile!!! *gives you giant singing cookie*

      Like

      1. Lol! It was more interesting this way! Haha, so you are an expert ranter?! *bows in your majesty*

        Awww, thank you!!! *squishes you and giant singing cookie in hug*

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yay!! I’m so glad you think so!!! And I’m not sure if I’m an EXPERT, really, so–oh, you’re bowing? Well, then, yes. Yes, I am. *poses angelically as my head grows to the size of a hot-air balloon* XD

          Like

  4. I don’t know if I would call all of my stories similar, but no matter how close my story is to science fiction or realistic fiction, somehow some sort of magical power slips in. All. the. time. I’m pretty sure in it’s in every story I write but it is so fun to write about that I don’t stop it. 🙂

    Like

    1. I wish I could say the same for my stories, haha! XD I tend to accidentally have ideas that are so super cool (at the time, of course XD) but then I realize that technically, if I slightly altered the plot of my current story, I could use the new idea instead. But I still love my old idea, so I don’t do that, haha!

      And magical powers are the BEST. I am quite pleased that they enter your science fiction and realistic fiction worlds. You, my friend, know how to write! XD

      Like

  5. You know, I’ve actually never heard that particular piece of advice before. It sounds like someone who didn’t know what they were talking about tried to sound wise, somebody else who didn’t know what they were talking about thought it sounded wise, and it caught on.
    The piece of writing advice I hate the most is “You HAVE to do it this way,” whether it’s people saying you HAVE to be either a plotter or a pantser or you HAVE to know your ending or you HAVE to write without planning or you HAVE to avoid brainstorming and wait for creativity to strike.
    I struggled for a while trying to find my writing style. And it’s still changing. But now I don’t stress about other’s advice unless it actually sounds helpful, and the only person I’m really writing for is me. I say this at the first draft stage, so it will change when I start editing and querying, but I strongly believe you shouldn’t write something if you don’t absolutely love it. That’s not to say you won’t ever hate it. But if you don’t have the enthusiasm and/or willpower to struggle through those hard times when your characters aren’t cooperating or you realize you wrote half the book in totally the wrong setting (oops), you’re not going to finish it at all and you’ll feel so much worse.
    So that’s my writing advice. Don’t write what you know; write what you love. Write about soft fluffy comforters and warm kittens and a cup of hot chocolate and a good book with crispy pages. Write about painful betrayals and sympathetic villains and unwavering friendships and family who will do anything for each other.
    Write a book that you will, one day, love with all your heart. Because if you decided to write it, then somewhere, you already do. You just need to remember that love and never let it go.
    (Wow. That turned out waaaaay more heartfelt than I intended. And now I want to sing Frozen.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my word, I LOVE this comment!!!!

      And I agree whole-heartedly!!!!! First off with how this piece of advice I just completely ranted about for a million years was rubbish. Secondly, that people telling me I HAVE to write a certain way is yet another TERRIBLE AWFUL NO-GOOD PIECE OF ADVICE and I shall promptly reign myself in lest I rant for another thirty minutes about how awful it is.

      Thirdly, your writing advice is PERFECT. It’s so easy to forget the initial love and joy we felt for the first baby-steps of our current stories, and chase after newer, shinier ideas because they are…well…shiny. But it’s so crucial to finishing a story to both write what we love, and hold on to that feeling, however fleeting it may seem. I’m currently knee-deep in editing everlost right now, and it is SO HARD to remember why I loved this story! My characters make it easier, but still. It’s hard.

      Especially when they’re mean…

      And I find that my writing style is changing, too! Both with how I plan things, and how I execute them. One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that you’re always learning, always growing, and always, ALWAYS getting better!

      That is, if you’re actually writing, bahahahahahaha!!! XD

      Thank you so much for this wonderful comment!!!! Your advice is utterly beautiful!

      Like

  6. I’ve never heard this advice either… nevertheless, your rant was rather enjoyable and you should do more rants about foolish ‘advice’ from people who probably don’t even write. [Or think their way is the only way to write.]

    And I have a A3 sheet of butterfly stickers in my cupboard that are half a decade old and I still haven’t used them. Because I can’t have my stickers and use them too. So yeah. (Probably they don’t even stick any more??)

    *opens mouth to catch cookies* *it’s not unsanitary if they don’t touch the ground*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe I’ve seen it on Pinterest… (or maybe I just totally made it up??? [OOPS]) My marshmallow brain can’t keep things straight anymore, apparently! XD Aww, thank you so much! I do love writing rants. They are quite fun to do… Ah! I actually ha that same thought! I think I’m going to do a PART TWO and rant some more about writing advice. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to it, though, but rest assured it SHALL HAPPEN! (probably)

      ANOTHER STICKER SAVER!!!!! This is joyous news that I am not alone in this! Perhaps I am not so odd after all! YAY! (#imstillodd)

      Oh, very true! Very true!

      Like

  7. Ooh so much agreement! I’m NOT a fan of the idea you might have “one chance”…pfft, give me 50 chances please and thank you.😂 I used to be stuck in that crippling mode when I was a newbie writer, like if I messed up a draft, I had to start from the beginning! NO, SMOL CAIT. It burnt me out and made me hate writing. Now I am all for writing a book as many times as it needs. And running out of ideas is suuuuch a huge fear for me too.

    (Also I saved like all my precious stickers as a kid too!??? And like then I got to the point where I didn’t care about these stickers so much beause hello I could’ve bought new ones after I used the old ones and what is your life and your decisions, smol Cait.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly!!! 50 chances sounds MUCH more doable! *nods* Oh dear, I can totally relate to that. I believe I was slightly similar to that, as well. That, or I used to think that I had to write the first draft, do line edits, and BAM! done. (I was so smurt bahahahahahahahaha *distant sobbing*) I know, right? It’s like, I want to write ALL OF THE STORIES, but what if I run OUT of ALL OF THE STORIES???!?

      Ugh, I know!!! I feel like such a loser for not using my stickers while I had the chance! Now I paste any stickers I get onto my bed and notebooks and my cockatiel’s face and everything and anything really because STICKERS ARE FOR STICKING. (I have not actually pasted any stickers to my cockatiel’s face… I’m not sure why I wrote that…)

      Like

  8. Ah, Kenzie. How do you always know exactly what I need to hear??? THIS POST WAS PERFECT. I used to think I only had one story in me… so I had better get it perfect. But that was so overwhelming!!! Because I had to cram EVERYTHING into THAT one story. Which made the story awful. It had cities and deserts and gangs and pirate ships and mermaids and assassins and horses and like what on earth am I even writing anymore, Bob???? WHO CAN EVEN KNOW.

    Basically it has been so enormously FREEING to discover that I can write as many stories I want to, darnit!!!!

    So, yes. This post = thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awwwwww!!! But honestly that story sounds like a wonderful work of art?? All of those things go perfectly together, what are you talking about???? XD

      Exactly! We can literally write ALL OF THE STORIES and not be ashamed!!

      Aww! You are welcome! I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!

      Like

      1. HAHAHAHAHA MAYBE. Still, the PRINCIPLE was that I had to do it ALL RIGHT NOW AND PERFECTLY GO GO GO because I would never write another book EVER and it has been SUCH a FREEING thing for me to realize that I can try AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN until I write a book that I love and if I develop NEW loves I can write about that too and I can keep learning and growing and CHANGING as a writer AND THAT IS TOTALLY OKAY IT IS NOT A BETRAYAL OF WHO I AM. *head implodes from realization*

        Liked by 1 person

        1. OHHHH!!! Yes, exactly!!!! The writing process feels so BEAUTIFUL when you think of it like that, doesn’t it??? Like it really IS full of rainbows and sparkles and happiness!!! XD We have ALL OF THE CHANCES, and I love having that realization!!!! XD

          Like

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