Don’t give up the day job…

What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you? I’m asking this because I read a profile of the playwright Penelope Skinner in the Guardian newspaper and her creative writing teacher had told her: “You can’t predict what people are going to like: no matter how bad it is, there’s always going to be one person who likes it. What you have to do is find that one person.”

I love that quote. It reassures me that if only one person turns up to see my play but they laugh their head off, it doesn’t matter. Or if 100 people watch the play and only one person laughs, it still doesn’t matter. OK , I may be tweaking a few lines here and there because of the audience reaction, but nothing too drastic – a play is a work in progress after all!

The best piece of advice for Mike our props guy: wear the seagull on your head. It got laughs…

The worst piece of advice I ever had: a history tutor told me a long time ago that I would never be a journalist. I don’t think he liked me very much. I’ve since had a long and successful career in journalism. But he taught me never to listen to anyone who tells you you can’t do something – as long as it’s legal of course!

And the best piece of advice? From a former boss of mine, who is now a poet. He told me you have to work to pursue your dreams. Fit your passion around your career. But keep doing it. Mmmm, now where’s the time to start that second play?

What was the best piece of advice you were given – or your worst and how did you deal with it?

September 27, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Blogging, Comedy writing, Humour, Publishing, Theatre.


  1. Carl D'Agostino replied:

    “Never be the source of anyone’s misfortune and never pass up an opportunity to perform a charitable act.” It is my own advice to myself and all the religion anyone really needs.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I like it!

    • Gina replied:

      Oh that’s really wonderful and beautiful. Imagine how the world would be if everyone followed this advice.

      • WomanBitesDog replied:

        God, I can’t imagine it! What’s wrong with me? Perhaps my head is still stuck in spies and assassins…

  2. Pauline Guerin replied:

    I’ve been sadly deprived of much advice to be frank, I do like the fact that that history teacher said you’d never be a journalist though, how many teachers attempt to ruin the aspirations of their pupils by rash and incomprehensible comments like that? as a private tutor I see this a lot and it really is demoralising for those who lack confidence in themselves.

    I suppose the one piece of advice I received relatively recently was from a friend who read a little of my manuscript, she said ‘you have the gift, keep going’ that I intend to do.

    Can’t wait for the next play Lyndsey!

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      Keep going – yes, very true for a writer. Think I need a break at the mo…

      • Richard replied:

        Reminds me of the BBC who told a certain band that the bass palyer and drummer were oyt of time, and ‘the singer sounds like a black man’. The band? The Rolling Stones…

      • WomanBitesDog replied:

        I like it!

  3. 4amWriter replied:

    When I teach creative writing to kids, I tell them not to write what they know, but write what they love. Not exactly earth-shattering advice, but they seem to dig it. 😉

  4. Carrie Rubin replied:

    I think the best advice I ever got was the most simple. My mom taught me the golden rule at a young age: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Simple but wise words.

  5. robincoyle replied:

    Treat others the way you want to be treated.

    Works like a charm.

  6. jmmcdowell replied:

    I’m sensing a theme developing here. Respect others if you want them to respect you. 🙂

  7. Bernadett-B replied:

    This is so true that you really can’t predict what people will like.(Unless you make an artificial hype around something, but that doesn’t mean those people really like it and don’t just follow the herd.) As an artist I sometimes get really astonished how a piece I sketched between two phone calls is much more liked and appreciated than something I worked long hours on and I’m so proud of.:)
    One of the best piece of advice I got was from a teacher of mine in high school (he was talking about the final exam & cheating.) “You all can cheat as much as you want during classes but at the end you all will be alone, sitting alone, writing the exam alone.” It’s true in life in general too. You can ask for help, find short-cuts etc., but at the end of the day you’re still responsible for your own life and decisions.

  8. Chris Edgar replied:

    The best “advice” really came from observing my mother and the way she persists at the things she does ceaselessly. The worst advice actually came from her as well, not surprisingly — when I was little, she told me I probably wouldn’t ever play the drums well because I wasn’t physically coordinated. That proved to be way wrong. Now she can enjoy listening to me play.

    • WomanBitesDog replied:

      I love the way parents are so great at giving advice, even when it’s bad!

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