Internet advice

A few years back I had gallstones and they really, really hurt. My doctor told me the only solution was surgery to have my gallbladder removed. Oddly enough, I’m a little adverse to having bits of my body cut off and became convinced there must be a better way; after all, they got in there without surgery, there must be a way to get them out.

Enter the Internet.

A quick Google later and I found numerous people who claimed to have solved their gallstone nightmare without surgery. There were numerous testimonials from a diverse range of people and since there was nothing to buy and no one to pay, I decided to give it a go. After all, I had nothing to lose except endless nights of crippling agony.

And so it was on one lonely night I locked the doors and drank a pint of olive oil and half a pint of lemon juice.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever drunk a pint of olive oil; but if you haven’t … don’t.

I mean, seriously, don’t. It’s fucking rank.

In the cold light of day you might think this was an incredibly strange thing to do; but at the time, whilst faced with crippling pain and impending surgery, it seemed perfectly logical and reasonable. It’s the same logic which drives people to pay large sums of money to Homeopaths for a mixture of sugar and water – the alternative isn’t very nice and there’s anecdotal evidence to say it works.

But here’s the thing, anecdotal evidence isn’t evidence. It’s just people talking shit.

A year or so and several gallstone attacks later, including one which led to me being hospitalised with pancreatitis on Christmas day, I had the operation and have lived in gallbladder-less comfort ever since.

The point is, the Internet is full of dodgy advice. There’s no regulations so anyone can post any old shit and claim to be an expert.

Now to the real point.

I keep reading the exact same advice from various ‘experts’ about how to create, write and sell scripts. They all say the same thing and it all sounds reasonable and correct; but, and here’s the thing, not one of these people have ever had a script produced. Most of them have never even had a script optioned.

This is not to say their advice is wrong, but it should be treated with a degree of suspicion. These people haven’t learnt their advice first hand, they’ve read it in books. Books written by other people who’ve never achieved any success but instead have chosen to earn a living by selling the ‘SECRETS OF WRITING’. The information and advice in these books, which may or may not be true, gets retold, embellished and re-distributed around the net by people who profess to know THE TRUTH.

They don’t.

Or at best they might be partially right.

I’m just a beginner, but already the advice I read just doesn’t quite marry to my experiences.

I just think people should be careful whose advice they treat as gospel. If someone claims to have had massive success with their career based on a particular website or method – where’s the evidence? If it’s done them so much good, why haven’t they got any IMDb credits?

This is not to say you should automatically ignore everything everyone says, but surely it’s better to add more weight to the advice of people who practice what they preach? Even advice from unproduced writers can be useful, but it’s not to be slavishly stuck to. Listen to what people have to say and then ignore the bits you don’t like.

Basically, have a healthy degree of scepticism.

Don’t just blindly follow advice, no matter how many others swear by it – unless it’s someone whose work you trust and respect. Question everything, ignore what you want and never, ever believe what people write on the Internet without proof.

Hell, if I was you I wouldn’t even believe this post.

I don’t.

Categories: Industry Musings, Random Witterings | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Internet advice

  1. God-dammit, Barron! You’ve just invented Science!

    What’s wrong with just believing whatever makes you feel good and wishing really hard like everyone else?

  2. It is amazing how many how-to books are written by people who didn’t. I IMDB’d a few ‘writing gurus’ and, if they actually came up, their work was either sparse or 5/10 rated. Advice is advice and not step-by-step instructions anyway, you have to choose how to take it and abuse it.

    If it were that easy we’d all be doing it… err.. which we are, but at different levels of success.

  3. Very true. Like I always say, there is no WAY, there are multiple ways, no one knows what is going on, etc etc. We’re all fumbling in the dark, basically.

    Heh. Fumbling. Love that word.

  4. Very much agree – books like Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ seem more plausible than Reggie McNobody’s ‘How To Flog A Script And Make A Gazillion’, because, well, y’know, one of them’s had a lot of success and seems to enjoy what he does…

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