Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

A lot of advice is a product of survivorship bias

I started reading Chuck Wendig’s Gentle Writing Advice and right away in the introduction I ran into this great quote:

Writing advice is just shit writers made up. It is subjective in the truest sense: true for the subject, and even then, not always, not universally. It’s a product of survivorship bias: I DID THIS, AND I PUBLISHED A STORY, THEREFORE YOU SHOULD DO THIS, TOO.

It resonates with me a lot.

I do quite a lot of stuff and I do them very publicly: I write, I teach, I code and I speak in events. The result is that I’m often asked for advice.

For years, I’ve been prefacing all my advice with something along the same lines than Wendig does. I can only share my experiences and what I’ve seen and there are so many ways to succeed* and I can’t speak for any of those other ones.

I think it’s important to voice out. Especially because people who end up writing and speaking are often a self-selected group which introduces even more bias to the picture.

* for any definition of succession

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