Take My Advice With a Grain Of Salt
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to anything, and never let anyone convince you otherwise
My wife and I visited Japan a few years ago. We cashed in a ton of airline miles and flew Japan Airlines business class. It was a fantastic experience, and we took advantage of all the perks afforded in our little pods.
One of the inflight meals came with a purple finishing salt we’d never seen before. The flavor is completely indescribable. I’m not just being cliché; I can’t describe it. I wish I could. We’ve looked everywhere possible for the last four years, trying to find this purple, Japanese salt. It either doesn’t actually exist, or the reality of the flavor is lost in the memory.
I’ve learned a lot about everyone’s favorite sodium chloride by hunting for the elusive purple salt. For instance, did you know there are a few dozen salt varieties? Once you get beyond the basic table, Kosher, or sea salt, there are vast and unique options. While each type is still salt, it comes with different flavors and enhancements to the meal. Choosing the right salt, though, is mainly due to preference and availability.
Salt is a lot like reading advice online. There are so many different options and opinions, and it’s easy to get lost in a sea of often contradictory advice. Unfortunately, so many people sharing advice online tout a one-size-fits-all mentality.
As co-founder of The Writing Cooperative, I’ve read (and written) many advice articles providing advice for freelancers and writers. We publish at least a half-dozen new articles every day. With each piece we publish, Jessica and I strive to present a wide range of opinions.
We added a submission rule that prevents absolutes. In other words, anything purporting to be the only way to do something gets rejected. What worked for someone can guide others, but it is not and will never be the only way to succeed as a writer. It’s not to say the articles are bad and should be avoided, far from it. Instead, you should always read advice with, well, a grain of salt.
Like having a well-stocked spice rack, I’ve developed many unique lenses used when reading anything online. These considerations give me a sense of healthy skepticism and ensure I’m not simply accepting the author’s advice as gospel. It’s up to you to find the right combination of lenses that work for your decision-making.
In The Writing Cooperative’s Community Cohort (applications are currently open), I try to provide participants with a framework of options, support, and encouragement to explore their preferences. I view my role as introducing the various types of salt available and the suggested ways to use them. It’s up to participants to take that knowledge and experiment for themselves. My goal is to get people pointed in the right direction and encourage them to try.
Ultimately, I can’t make decisions for you. Nor am I responsible for your success or failure. No online writer is. Please take any advice you read online, whether it’s from me or someone else, with a grain of salt. Take the advice and apply it to your own situation, context, experience, and background. This is the only path to success I know.
And, if you have a lead on the Japanese purple salt, well, let me know!
Looking for a group-coaching experience to bounce ideas off and explore the tools available? The next Community Cohort launches in June. Learn more and apply today.
A version of this story originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, Eat Your Words. Eat Your Words is an idiom meaning to take back what you’ve said. For me, the phrase combines my two favorite things: eating and writing. The Eat Your Words by Justin Cox newsletter mixes writing and creativity advice with featured meals and recipes. It’s the best of both worlds, delivered right to your inbox every week. Sign up today!