Blog: GroupThink for Writers

A Guide to Internet Writing Boards & Groups & Associated Nonsense

I belong to a bunch of writing boards both on specialist writing web sites and social media platforms and delight in expressing my contrarian opinions. Many writers don’t like conventional ‘wisdom’ being challenged, so I am constantly getting into arguments. I haven’t been banned yet, alas, but I’m working on it.

My observations below detail why I enjoy interacting with my fellow writers and how I do everything I can to annoy them. If you have been lurking on a group, or you are thinking of joining one, here’s a guide to what you can expect. I tried to keep to ten points, but I had too much fun and kept going:

1. No one knows anything (including, and especially, me).

2. All advice is opinion.

3. Any opinion that includes always, must, can’t, never or anything else definite is worthless.

4. Anyone who resorts to personal insult just lost the argument.

5. People who insist on having the last word will invariably finish with a stupid and useless comment (I know I always do).

6. Anyone who judges you, your character and/or your ability as a writer solely on a single comment or question either has supernatural powers or is an idiot.

7. A precise question is usually pointless, as a large number of people will answer something you have not asked in order to big note themselves.

8. People who big note themselves are invariably small note writers.

9. What works beautifully for one writer may be useless for you – and there is nothing wrong with this, and there is nothing inferior about your preferred method.

10. If anyone tells you what you must do, you must not do it unless you want to prove them wrong.

11. Anything and everything anyone claims about writing can be proved wrong.

12. Grammar is a tool, and so is anyone who lectures you pedantically on the subject.

13. Any question you ask regarding writing has been asked before, probably word for word, so use search if available. The answers will still be useless, by the way.

14. When it comes to advice and/or opinion, comments by a published writer have no more validity than those of an unpublished writer. Their actual writing skills may be more advanced, but their opinions about writing are just as useless as anyone else’s.

15. If something you read on a writing board makes sense or appears to be useful, you are either delusional or you have crossed into a different dimension of time and space.

16. Yes, there are stupid questions.

17. If someone doesn’t like what you say, you are on the right track.

18. If asking, ‘am I allowed to…?’ stop typing. The answer is yes.

19. If anyone, like me, converts an answer to your post into a promotion for their book, they are desperate for sales.

20. If anyone starts a response with, “nothing personal, but,” they are about to get personal.

21. The main danger when joining a writing board is taking anything seriously.