All It Takes Is…

If, like me, you’ve spent any amount of time (online or otherwise) reading page after page of writing advice, you’ve probably noticed that there’s no clear cut answer to writing well (or writing, in general). All it takes is [insert any number of strands of advice here] and you, my friend, can become a writer!

Sound enough like an infomercial to you?

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Still, regardless of the vast similarities and differences of one writer’s success when compared to another’s, I’m addicted to reading these writing how to articles, posts, or quote memes. I read them with the hope that I’ll find that special something, that one spark that ignites my writing fire, that missing piece of the puzzle that I’ve been searching for.

And I do. Each time I devour a new article or author interview, I discover a new idea that can be molded to fit my own writing process. Sometimes this discovery is as simple as the realization that there is no right way, no magic trick that makes all the chaos of a writing life tuck itself neatly into a pocket-sized manual filled with only the words that inspire us.

My most recent discovery came to my inbox, via a newsletter from Writer Unboxed. The gem that sparkled the brightest, for me, was the idea that it’s okay to skip a part. You see, one of the biggest reasons why I have so many unfinished manuscripts lying about is that I get stuck on a particular section and, after giving it more thought than I feel I should at the time, I get discouraged by the entire project and cast it aside, trading it in for something new–the next story.

But in this particular newsletter, the author writes on how, if a particular scene isn’t clearly defined, she makes a note about it and–get thismoves on!

I do realize that this isn’t rocket science, and that many of you are leaning away from your screen right now, shaking your head, and muttering about how daft some writers can be. Perhaps you all already skip the parts that you can’t figure out. If so, that’s great! (And also, why didn’t you tell me sooner?) But if you’re like me and you get hung up on, and eventually discouraged by, the missing link, take heart. It’s okay to skip it. Make a note about it and move forward with the story. Come back to the troublesome bits and hammer them out. Later.

I suppose, in the end, it isn’t about that golden piece of advice making everything click into place as much as it’s about giving ourselves permission to forgo whatever rules we feel we’re supposed to follow (like writing a story from beginning to end without fail), and just write the damned story.

Sometimes it’s the little things– the very little, very obvious things. You mean I can write however I want? Well, who knew?

(Image via Pinterest)

Live. Love. Write.

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3 thoughts on “All It Takes Is…

  1. Yeah, those how to articles are pretty inconsistent. I’ve found plenty of helpful ones over the years, though. Usually I go for them when I’m having a problem and I want to see how other writers handle it. Here’s my “how to:”

    1. Write stuff. Do it a lot. Writing is many things, including a skill. That means it gets better with practice.

    2. Read good stuff of the same type that you’re trying to write.

    3. Find people to read and give you feedback. This is the hardest part for me, and it’s stunted my growth as a fiction writer my entire life, because I just don’t let a lot of people look at my fiction. It is both my weakest area, and the one I have the most emotional investment is.

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    • I agree that it can be difficult to find readers who are willing and able to give thoughtful feedback, and it’s just as difficult to trust that feedback once it comes.

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      • It helps if the readers are other writers. It also helps if they are interested in helping one another improve. You’re right, it is very hard to trust, but I think it’s an essential part of the process.

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