Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart.

18.23: Our Advice on Giving Advice

“Show don’t tell” is probably the most famous advice given to writers. But. . . we don’t necessarily agree. In our final episode of our deep dive into publishing, we tackle advice: How do you give it? When do you not? Our hosts tell us about the advice they wish they followed and the things they don’t tell their students. Also: Mary Robinette teaches us a trick about puppet fingers. 


  1. Write a letter to yourself a year ago describing what kind of skills are they going to need in order to confront the challenges that are coming.
  2. We’ve finished our 8 episode deep dive into Publishing Is Hard! Next week, we’ll be diving into Dan’s audiobook “Dark One: Forgotten.” Please find this and listen to it! (It’s only 6 hours long)

Thing of the Week:

Stone Soup – Newsletter by Sarah Gailey

Mentioned Links:

Credits: Your hosts for this episode were Mary Robinette Kowal, DongWon Song, Erin Roberts, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. It was produced by Emma Reynolds, recorded by Marshall Carr, Jr., and mastered by Alex Jackson.

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As transcribed by Mike Barker

Key Points: Advice? How to do it? Rooting it in our own experience. Weasel wording, or just say it? Do you have to do it this way? No. Tools, not rules. Students want clear answers. Show your work when you give advice. Show, don’t tell, except… Tools as recipes. What do they want to tell? Beware the oxtail debacle! It’s all these balancing acts. Make space for people to figure out, “Here’s my intent. Here’s what I want to do. Here’s how I’m going to do it.”

[Season 18, Episode 23]

[Mary Robinette] This is Writing Excuses.

[DongWon] Our advice on giving advice.

[Erin] 15 minutes long.

[Dan] Because you’re in a hurry.

[Howard] And we’re full of it.

[Mary Robinette] I’m Mary Robinette.

[DongWon] I’m DongWon.

[Erin] I’m Erin.

[Dan] I’m Dan.

[Howard] I’m… Pretty full of it. Yeah.


[Howard] I’m Howard. Hi, everybody.

[DongWon] So I wanted to spend a little moment at the end of this deep dive talking about what are we actually doing here. Right? So this is a thing that I think about a lot. When I started my newsletter in 2019, one of the first posts I wrote was that this newsletter is not about advice. I don’t want to be someone in the world who is out there telling you this is how you do it. Right? What I want to be doing instead is saying I have experience. I’ve gone through certain things, here’s my perspective. Right? So I think one thing that we’re really good at on this show… Or I hope we’re good at on this show is rooting what we talk about here in our own experience. Because that’s the only lens we have. Last episode, Mary Robinette was talking about the metaphor of the forest, and you have your path through the forest. It’s useful to talk about that so people can take their learnings from it. All of that said, it’s hard not to slip into it. It’s hard not to come at some point, be like, “All right, all right. Here’s how you do it.” Right? Here’s like this writing trick, this tip, this career advice, whatever it is. So how do we balance that? I guess I’m just curious, sort of, from the group, what’s everyone’s thoughts on this?

[Howard] Can I… In the very first season of Writing Excuses, and this isn’t something that was recorded, it was something that Brandon and Dan and I talked about around the table. The principle was stop weasel wording. People know that the advice we’re giving is just stuff that’s worked for us. We’re all going to have… We don’t need to frontload everything with this might not work for you, but it’s worked for me, and I’ve seen it work for a lot of other people, and here’s this thing. The point was we want to keep the podcast to 15 minutes, so just prune all that and get straight to the thing that’s worked for you, and people are smart enough to throw their own filter down. The fact of the matter is, there are people who are not yet aware that they need to throw that filter in front of the things that we say. So we weasel word a lot. But we continue to give advice.

[Dan] Yeah. I find when I teach classes, story structure in particular, I have to say, “This is just my experience and something that works for me. It’s a tool you can use if it is helpful.” Because if I don’t, that is the first question every time, is, “Do I really have to do it this way?” No. No, you don’t.

[DongWon] Yeah. For me, when I’ve had sort of a social media response to something I put on a newsletter kind of go in a direction that I didn’t want it to go in has been people who’ve been like, “Oh, this person said this is how we have to do it. This is how you have to market your books.” It’s really hard to find that line sometimes between acknowledging my own subjectivity, my own flaws, and also not falling into imposter syndrome. Right? Like, I do know stuff. Right? I’ve been doing this for a minute. I’ve had a number of my projects sell copies, win awards, whatever it is. Knowing that, I do have experience and learnings to share, but not also talking myself down and also not artificially hyping myself up is a tough balancing act.

[Dan] Yeah. Kind of the mantra that I use as I teach is tools, not rules.

[Mary Robinette] Yes.

[DongWon] Love that.

[Dan] That these are… This is something you can use if you want, this is something you can ignore if you want, but please don’t be… Don’t feel obligated to do things the way I did it, because the odds are good, the way I did it is not going to work for anyone else.

[DongWon] Everyone here teaches, but, Erin, I think, you’re the one who is most in the trenches, teaching students all day every day. What’s that experience like for you in terms of sharing these learnings?

[Erin] I think a lot of what folks have said is telling people… My job, as a teacher, I believe, is to help you tell the best story you can. Not help you tell the story I wish you were telling. I explicitly tell my class that. I also do a lot… If we ever do a podcast just on teaching… In letting students guide the learning and say what is it that you want. So, for example, when I workshop stories, I ask students to say, “What are the questions you want us to talk about in our workshop? Not just tell you we like this, we like that, but do you want us to talk about the characters? Do you want us to talk about the plot?” What’s hard with something like a podcast is, like, there’s only so much guiding that can go on…


[Erin] Because it is one way. But I think that’s why we love to sort of… We have a message board where people can write things, or we’re trying to with our newsletter, with our website, encourage more conversation because we want to know what is working, what is the thing that you would love for us to hear more about, or to talk more about. I also think just having a lot of different voices here helps, because we don’t always agree on everything, or we’ll put things differently. I think that shows that there’s room for many ways to tackle a particular issue.

[Mary Robinette] Yeah. I love what you’re talking about. I do the same thing, I asked them, like, “What are you trying to accomplish?” The thing that I also know is that what a student wants is a clear answer. Like, because I know that this is the thing I want. I want someone to just tell me how to do it, so that I don’t keep messing up. I… Again, puppet metaphor. My mentor, my internship project, I was building these puppets for my project made out of sculpi, and their fingers just kept snapping off. Like, it became very much a gaffer’s tape is a design element to hold the puppets together. I was complaining about it, and he’s like, “Yeah, you should have put wires in the fingers.” I’m like, “You watched me build them. Why didn’t you tell me?” He said, “Well, I thought you would learn more, just making the mistake yourself. Now you know for certain.” I’m like, “No!”


[Mary Robinette] “No, I would have learned from you watching me do one, and saying, hey, for your information, you should put wire in the fingers instead of watching me make all of the puppets with the same mistake.” So when I’m giving advice, I’m like, “Here’s mistakes you don’t need to make. You can make a lot of mistakes. Here’s a tool that you should know. Like, maybe you want the fingers to snap off of your puppets, in which case, don’t put wire in. This is the tool, this is the effect it has, these are the times that you can use it, and there are cases where it won’t apply.”

[DongWon] This is the thing… I mean, this kind of goes back to the mentorship conversation we were having last episode a little bit, but the thing that’s a tough balancing act for me is trusting the person to be smart and figure out their own solution, but also wanting to be like, “Uh, that’s not going to work, and here’s why.” But maybe it will work for them. Right? For me, it’s such a balancing act of, like, not trying to dominate how someone else is going to solve a problem, but also wanting to make sure that I am telling them that like, “Yeah, you can’t build fingers that way. They’re going to break.” Right? So, knowing what the line between what is actionable advice versus what is sharing experience is a trick.

[Howard] Yeah, there’s what kind of cooking oil goes best with frying meats and “No, wait. Don’t put a frozen turkey in the deep fryer.”


[Howard] “You will explode the deep fryer and burn down the house.” There are very few artistic situations that are frozen turkey in the deep fryer advice for me… Not many cases where I’ll say, “Oh, no. Never do that. Absolutely not ever.” But when I see one, I will step up and say, “Maybe you shouldn’t do that. It’s going to blow up.”

[Erin] I also think a lot of it is about showing your work when you give advice. Not just like giving the advice and then running out. I mean, like, “Don’t do it. Bye!” But explaining, like, here’s the situation you may be having for yourself. So, you’re like, “If you decide to do this this way, here is some pushback that you may be getting, here’s the way readers may react to it, here’s what you may then need to work with like on the other side.” So it’s sort of like if you were like, “Oh, I definitely don’t want to put wire in those fingers,” you’re like, “Okay. Well, gravity is going to work this way. So if you definitely don’t want to have those wires, you may need to use a lighter substance, because, ultimately, you can’t do anything about gravity, but you can work around it.”


[Erin] So I think that you’re going… Apparently. So, I mean…

[Howard] Would you like to see this video of someone putting a frozen turkey in a deep fryer? Because, yeah, sometimes you do need to offer evidence.

[Erin] Yeah. Sometimes you just need to say, like, “Here’s…” A lot of the writing advice that I think is out in the world is a shorthand for a longer conversation that isn’t happening. So, people distill it down to, like, show, don’t tell, but they don’t explain why and what they mean and why should you show here and tell there. That’s the conversation that doesn’t happen, and that’s the advice we need to give more of.

[DongWon] I love this thing about like, you can’t change gravity. Right? Because a lot of times I’m seeing writers talk about certain things when I’m talking to them… I’ll at some point kind of shrug and be like, “Yeah, that’s capitalism.” Right? I think in some ways the publishing industry, the logic… This goes back to me talking about understanding what publishing is for is understanding that… That’s the rule of gravity. The… At the end of the day, a publisher’s going to want to maximize profit. You can’t change that. So what do you… What can you change? What piece of advice builds around the fact that gravity is going to pull you in a certain direction, and therefore you need to do X, Y, or Z? I want to get a little bit more into sort of details of ways in which advice can be a little bit of a trap or involves us contradicting ourselves. You’re going to hear us disagreeing with the things we said three episodes ago all the time. I think there’s some stuff to be unpacked there. But, let’s take a quick break first.

[DongWon] So, the thing of the week this week is one of my favorite newsletters, Stone Soup by Sarah Gailey. The thing that Sarah does is try and build a lot of community through the work that they do online. The Stone Soup newsletter this year is doing a thing called The Personal Canon’s Cookbook. I’m contributing an essay to it, it’s a really delightful thing. The Personal Canon’s Cookbook idea is a series of essays that highlight the way food shapes us in our relationship to ourselves and our communities. It’s featuring a wide range of voices of people who will talk about what certain dishes mean to them in their personal history and personal sort of cultural associations and then include a recipe of how you can make that yourself. Their goal is to have this as an ongoing online series, and then to publish a cookbook collection of it at the end if there are enough subscribers for it. So, again, that’s Stone Soup by Sarah Gailey. I would go check that out.

[DongWon] So, as I was talking about before the break, the thing that I really want to get into is the way in which I think… One of the reasons I don’t like to give advice is because all publishing advice tends to be inherently contradictory. I think sometimes success in publishing is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time and execute on both of them at the same time. Right? The example I always give is show, don’t tell. Right? So, we hear this advice all the time. Show, don’t tell; show, don’t tell; show, don’t tell. Don’t tell us that someone’s feeling an emotion, show us. Show us how that person’s body is responding, how they’re talking, how they’re breathing. The flipside of that is that a book is mostly an author telling us stuff. Right? A book is 90% tell. Right? When I find myself, like, glacially moving through an opening scene, it’s often because there showing me every single thing, when what really I want them to do is, like, just tell me what time of day it is. Tell me what this person’s doing. Tell me who they are, why do we care about them. So, finding that balancing line is you have to do both at the same time. Show, don’t tell is accurate. You need to be showing. But also, you have to tell. You can’t just do one. You’ve gotta do both.

[Mary Robinette] Yeah. Sorry. That is one of my biggest pet peeves as writing advice. I have a whole TikTok, you can go watch me rant about it. But the thing is with that, that for me, it’s the show, don’t tell comes back to the question, like, what are you trying to accomplish, and that I feel like the writing advice, that when we give it to people, that we… When I… What I try is to give them the right questions to ask rather than giving them the answers. So, unpacking show, don’t tell, it’s like this is the effect of showing, which is that it will slow the pacing down, it will give you… It will often root you more in a character’s emotions, it can have these effects this is the effect of telling, it can speed the pacing up, it can gloss over things, it can distance you from the emotion, because you’re not giving the character… The reader, time. Both of these are possible outcomes from showing versus telling. What do you want to happen in this scene? Is this a place where you need things to pick up, is this a place where you don’t? So, like, I’m writing a scene right now where my main character is… Has just gone through some trauma and is disassociating. I am telling every… Like, I am flipping everything for show, don’t tell. She watched her body leave the room. Because I need that distance. So I’m using that tool in the inverse. Whereas if I had just taken the “You should always do this, this is a flaw,” I would not do that scene. So it’s… For me, giving advice is about giving them the tools and the questions to ask.

[Howard] One of my favorite places to criticize the whole giving of advice is in a critique group scenario. Where it’s almost always inappropriate to give advice to the author whose manuscript you are reading about what needs to be changed. The reason for this tends to be that what the author needs is to know how you reacted to what they put on the page, not what advice you would give. How you reacted to what they put on the page, so that they can evaluate whether there intent for your reaction was correctly executed. Now, that’s a pretty complicated recipe. So, sometimes in a critique group, I will ask, “What did you want me to feel after this scene? Because I’m not sure how to tell you what I felt in a way that’s meaningful.” I would only have that discussion with someone whom I have been in this group with for a while where we already have a relationship, we already have a syntax. That’s the point at which we’ve grown to where I might actually be able to give advice. Because I know a thing that I didn’t know before. It’s always tempting to look at a thing that you feel like it’s been done wrong because you didn’t respond to it the way you feel like you should have and give advice. That’s an easy early career writer trap to just step all the way out of and say, “Oh. I don’t have to give my advice at all during a critique group.”

[DongWon] Yeah, well, I mean, I think this goes back to tools, not rules. Right? Like, here are principles that can be useful. But the thing is, no one can tell you how to do the thing exactly. You gotta navigate that yourself. Take these different learnings and apply it. Remember, just because somebody says so, just because an agent said so, editor said so, famous writer said so, some guys on a podcast said so, doesn’t mean that like you have to do the thing. 

[Dan] I had the opportunity, just this week, to help my daughter write a protest speech. She was involved with a protest at her university. She had the opportunity to give a four-minute speech and she wrote a 10 minute speech and sent it to me and said, “This is way too long. Help me.” So my main job was to cut that down. Well over half of it. But another part of my job was to make sure that the parts that were important to her were still there. This had to still sound like her and it had to still be an emotionally resonant in order to really matter, in order to serve her and serve the audience. So I remember one story in particular that she told, I cut that out. I said this story’s boring. She’s like, “That’s my favorite story in the speech.” Then that gave us the opportunity to talk about, well, it doesn’t fit from my perspective. It is long, you need to make up this time somehow. But how can we change it in order to make it fit? If that’s what’s important to you, then rather than just cutting it out, which was my gut instinct, how can we tweak this, how can we build toward it, how can we draw a better line under it so that the thing you want to bring out comes out?

[Mary Robinette] I… Going back to the kitchen metaphor, the professional kitchen metaphor from a couple of episodes ago, I often think about the tools as recipes, and that when I’m giving advice, I’m like, “This is a recipe.” But the danger is that it’s very easy, especially when giving like structure advice, it’s very easy to give someone a recipe so that they just keep… Their restaurant serves nothing but cake. It’s like maybe they want to make a really nice soup. Maybe they want to make like lasagna. There’s a bunch of different things. Then you get into the world of molecular gastronomy where people are doing things with techniques that should not normally be applied to an ingredient and coming up with magical amazing effects. So if you know the science behind the recipe, then you can apply that to your own thing. For… Again, I’m going to just keep coming back to this, and the thing you were talking about with your daughter, it’s knowing what is important to them and helping them get to the story that they’re trying to tell.

[Erin] I think that’s actually perfect, because I was just thinking that how do you expand also the types of advice that you get? Because the recipes that we know came from the kitchens we were raised in. You know what I mean?


[Erin] So, it’s… So a lot of times, like because of the way the publishing industry is in life is, you might see the same recipes over and over again, the same types of advice. But thinking about that path through the woods, we might all get really good at walking one path through the woods and have great advice for it, and not realize, number one, that there are people coming from another path who might need different advice. But also, what those people see on their path might, even though it doesn’t seem like it has to do with an obstacle we face on our path, be an amazing tool that we could be using. So I love getting advice from folks who are coming from a completely different storytelling tradition than the one that I’m use to come or it’s coming from a different country. Just people who are telling stories differently, because then they have different advice and different tools and different recipes that are going to make my offerings so much better.

[DongWon] This is where I read a book a couple of years ago called Craft in the Real World, I believe the name is Matthew Salesses.

[Mary Robinette] Yes.

[DongWon] I don’t know how to pronounce his last name.

[Mary Robinette] You are correct.

[DongWon] Wonderful, wonderful book, that completely transformed my teaching practice, because so much of it is talking about, hey, we teach in a certain way that’s very top-down. Here’s how the Western sort of culture wants things to be, versus accepting people as coming from different places. So I think going back to tools, not rules, is understanding that these writing rules quote unquote are in place and it’s good to know what they are. I think it’s very important to know the structures, why people do certain things. The best reason to know it is so that you can break them. Right? My favorite type of fiction is when somebody takes a thing that you know they’re not supposed to do, and then they just charge headlong into it, and be like, “No. Forget that. I’m going to do the thing that you told me not to do, and I’m going to do it in a way that’s exciting, interesting, and organic.” That sometimes produces the most exciting type of fiction, for me, at least.

[Mary Robinette] Yeah. At the same time, I will also say that there is benefit when you are starting out…


[Mary Robinette] To trying on a rule set for size, and doing things on the easy setting, and just tweaking one parameter. Because one of the things I will see people do sometimes is, like, I’m just going to try to… I’m going to try to subvert everything, without actually understanding how things connect to each other, and the ramifications. I think that you should, like… I also think that you should experiment. But I don’t think that you should expect all of your experiments to be successful and interesting.

[Howard] Yeah. Once in a generation, maybe, you’ll find somebody who can break all the rules and create a new paradigm. Sorry.

[Mary Robinette] No. I was just going to say, Lord knows, I’ve made some cocktails that are hot messes.


[DongWon] Sometimes we talk about being experimental and how exciting being experimental is. Sometimes experimenting is experimenting with the rule set. It’s playing within the boundaries. I was lucky enough to be on vacation in Paris recently and I went to the Rhodin museum which is one of my favorite museums in the world. I love a single artist museum because you get to see so much of the arc of their career. The thing that always strikes me whenever I go to these, like, Picasso, Dali, Rhodin, whatever… Their earliest work is so traditional. They started from a place of being so good at the normal formal thing. Then, you could see the little seed of where they’re going, and then watching them, bit by bit, figure out which rules they can break until you get to these incredible masterpieces that transformed aesthetics, art, all these things, and culture, but they started from somewhere. That somewhere usually was a much more traditional practice.

[Mary Robinette] But then you’ve got outsider artists as well.

[DongWon] Absolutely.

[Mary Robinette] Who never followed any rule set at all, that are doing things… Except for the ones they are discovering and chasing down with joy, who are doing fabulous, interesting work that is very hard to get.

[DongWon] Exactly.

[Mary Robinette] A home for. Like, a good experiment is not the same thing as publishable.

[DongWon] Well, this is… We’re demonstrating the thing that we’re talking about. We’re demonstrating the traps of talking about advice because there’s so many different ways to do it. Right? There’s so many different paths to success. Sometimes what we’re doing is optimizing for what’s most likely, what will be applicable to the broadest part of the audience. But, as we were talking about with Craft in the Real World and some of what Erin was saying, sometimes that can mean that we’re deliberately disregarding a section of the audience over and over again. So, how do you find that balance, how do you manage that? I think the answer is you bring in as many voices as you can. Which is something that we all try to do here. And to read really broadly. I try to ingest as many stories from different places, different media, different cultures, different genres. That, I think, helps me to do the thing that I focus on.

[Howard] John Kovaleski and I went back and forth briefly on Twitter talking about what a delightful luxury it is at this point in our careers to have people look at our artwork and praise all of our flaws and shortcomings and shortcuts as “I really just love your style.” Yeah, that’s cute.


[Howard] I’m so happy you feel that way about it. There are so many things that I wish I could do better, that I continue to try to do better, and I have lucked into being in a position where I can get away with, in large measure, not doing a lot of that stuff. It would be a mistake, I think, for a young artist to look at my artwork, for a young writer to look at my writing, and say, “Well, this style works for so-and-so, so I will just emulate them.” I’m like, “Oh, please. That’s not what I would do if I were where you are.”

[Mary Robinette] So I think that the only actual mistake you can make in writing, and this is broadly stated with great authority…


[Mary Robinette] The only mistake that you can actually make in writing is if the work does not have the effect you want it to have on the audience that you intended it for. That’s the only time you’ve made a mistake.

[DongWon] I like to talk a lot about how certain commercial writers will sort of get talk down, but I actually think they’re sort of the best writers in the business, on a craft level. I use Lee Child as an example all the time in my writing classes, because I think he is so precise about the thing that he’s trying to do. It may not be as aesthetically beautiful as Cormac McCarthy for a certain set of tastes. But, boy, is it effective. You can learn a lot from watching how someone like that accomplishes what he’s trying to accomplish. At the same level, I think that what Cormac McCarthy’s trying to accomplish for what he’s trying to accomplish. Right? I think having… I think, in terms of the criticism sometimes intent isn’t always the most important thing. But, in terms of craft, watching someone achieve what he set out to do, I think is a beautiful thing, and one that we should all be paying attention to.

[Dan] I keep going back to what Erin said about getting food and recipes from different traditions than your own. What immediately jumped to mind was, it feels like maybe two or three years ago, American chefs discovered Gochujang…


[Dan] It was like this huge, “Have you guys tried this?” Which has been in Korean cooking forever. Now, all of a sudden, everyone’s like, “Oh. Add this.” That idea of I now have access to this ingredient I’ve never had before and I can learn so much from the people who developed it and use it every day and what can that do, how can I change that, how can I change my own food? That’s such a fascinating topic for me.

[DongWon] One thing I do want to flag, though, is that if I have to go to one more Brooklyn brunch spot that has the saddest kimchee I’ve ever seen in my life, I will literally explode. This is part of it, you have to pay attention to the rules. Right? I saw a cooking video on YouTube a few years ago that was a white chef who was teaching people how to make kimchee. At the end, he held up this brown goopy mess. I was looking at it, I mean, like, “What the hell did you make, man? That ain’t kimchee!”


[DongWon] I mean, that’s not right. It’s the wrong color, it’s the wrong materials, it’s the wrong technique, because he didn’t take the time to sit down and learn how do the people who’ve been doing this for thousands of years make it.

[Dan] Yeah.

[DongWon] You have to really internalize these techniques, and then you can innovate.

[Erin] I also think, like, you need to make sure not to leave the people behind that you’re taking these recipes from.

[Chorus of yeah, yup, yes]

[Erin] You don’t want to end up with what I would call the oxtail debacle which is where I don’t know some people discovered oxtail and started buying it to the point where like oxtail is a delicious… No, it’s horrible. There was this whole part on Twitter where actually people were trashing oxtail purposefully to try to drive prices back down.

[DongWon] Hey, Whitey. $15 a pound.

[Erin] Because they’re like…

[DongWon] It was like a dollar a pound when I was a kid.

[Erin] Part of the reason we worked with it, we loved it, was that it was cheap. Now, like, other people are driving up the prices and the folks who you learned your oxtail recipe from can’t afford the meat that you are now using in your high-end restaurant. So it’s like that can happen. It happens to many things. It can happen with writing traditions. It is amazing to learn from other people. It is horrible to learn from other people and then not give them the opportunity to also express that part of the craft by shutting the door behind you.

[DongWon] Exactly. I think this is where… When I get didactic about advice, it’s when stuff like this is happening. I see people being harmed by the practices being put into place. So the only time I feel more comfortable really saying do this, don’t do that, is when I see acts of appropriation happening, when I see reifying certain colonial practices in terms of how people write about certain things or just overt phrases in one of the pages sometimes, those are the moments when I find that I have to stand up and really flex a little bit from my position and be like, “Hey, this is a problem in these ways.” Right? So, as with everything we’ve said here, it’s all a balancing act. Right? It’s all [garbled traditions]. Never give advice. Unless somebody’s really messing up, in which case, give that advice. Right? Take from other cultures and learn new practices, but don’t do it in a way that harms other people or removes opportunities for other people. Right? It’s all these balancing acts. That’s why doing a show like this is so much fun for me, and it’s so dynamic, but it’s a thing that I am very live to in all the conversations we have, about how do we balance these things, how do we make sure we are supporting the people we want to support. We’re giving tools, we’re not giving rules. We’re doing all these things and making space for people to figure out, “Here’s my intent, here’s what I want to do. Here’s how I’m going to do it.” So, on that note, Dan, I believe you have our homework?

[Dan] All right, your homework today, there’s two parts to the homework. The first one is this. We want you to write a letter to yourself a year ago, describing to that person what kind of skills are they going to need in order to confront the challenges that are coming in the coming year. What kinds of advice would you give to yourself if you could do that? For yourself one year ago. So, write that letter. The other thing is we have now finished this wonderful eight episode series deep dive into DongWon’s newsletter and all of the wonderful topics that spun off from that. We’re starting a new one next week. We will be doing a deep dive into my audiobook, Dark One Forgotten. We mentioned this a couple of months ago. We’re reminding you now. Find that somewhere and listen to it. It’s only six hours long. Starting next week, we will be digging deep into that project.

[Mary Robinette] In the next episode of Writing Excuses, we learn what it was like for Dan to hear the un-bleeped version of his audiobook and why he knows so much about cults. Until then, you’re out of excuses. Now go write.