write

Throw the Writing Advice Away

There are so many opinions about how and what you should write.

Write what you know.

Don’t write what you know. 

Write something original.

There are no original stories.

Follow the rules.

Break the rules.

Don’t “It was a dark and stormy night”…

Unless it was a dark and stormy night.

If you’re waiting for the world of writing (or the world of writers) to pat you gently on the head and say, “Two plus two will always equal four,” then you’re waiting in vain. There is no secret handshake, no one-size-fits-all rule, no tried-and-true method that will work for every writer. In terms of your writing, you are the only writer. You can download every free printable, every template, every “sign up today and I’ll show you how to make a story come alive” the interweb has to offer, but the truth is that what worked for C.S. Lewis might not work for you. What works for George R.R. Martin probably doesn’t work for any other writer alive. What works for you won’t necessarily work for me. It’s true, I believe, that there are no truly original stories. What we do have are truly original authors.

A few years ago, I was writing a series of memories about my maternal Grandmother. I spoke with my cousin, one of my dearest friends, trying to conjure up images and moments tucked deep in the recesses of my mind. The only problem was that although my cousin and I had the same amazing Grandmother, and though we both loved her dearly, and though she loved us both, and though we lived through some of the same experiences with this wonderful woman — clearly we remembered different things about her. The story of this woman’s life did not change — not in the least; Rather, we perceived it differently.

That’s how it is with writers. Every story boils down to a basic form. The element of change is the author. I’ve thought about this in terms of Wicket Lake: What would happen if I died before I finished the story? I could ask my fiance to take all of my writing and my notes and try to finish it, and he could probably do a fair job of it at this point because he knows enough of the details I keep tucked away in my sock. But at the end of it, it would be a different story than the one I am writing. Two writers never find the same word choice, never find the same tone, never find the same conflicts or work the same resolutions. The story itself becomes something different in the hands of another writer.

My friend and fellow blogger over at My Cock A Doody Life has dubbed herself an “at the moment writer,” meaning she writes what she feels she needs to write. She’s not boxed into some structure or form or expectation of what her blog needs to look like. She just writes. I love this approach. It allows such freedom to explore, to find the things that matter to you, to find the things that don’t matter to you.

The irony is not lost on me — that I’m about to give you unsolicited writing advice which tells you to ignore writing advice. Nonetheless, here it is:

Throw all the advice away, and just write what’s on your heart today. You can edit tomorrow. For today, just get it out. Get it out of your gut. Get it onto paper.

Non-Writing-Related Note: The Featured Image today is purely for my Momma’s sake. Can you make these wrist-warmers for me?! In purple?

From the shores of Wicket Lake,

sem

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