Writing Tip #103

If it ain’t broke… I have a confession to make. Generally speaking, I’m not a big reader of “how to write” books or articles or blog posts. (Ironic, I know, considering I pen writing tips every week.) I find the amount of information out there on any particular topic overwhelming — and often contradicting. I’ll be cruising along and minding my own business and then read about the enormous success another writer is having doing something in a completely different way from the way I do it, and I’ll think, “Should I too be doing it that way?”

More often than not, I’ve found the answer is no, that how I’m going about things is perfectly fine, because it developed organically, in a way I didn’t really think about because it just happened. Trying to emulate someone else’s process can be like trying on someone else’s clothing because you like the way they look on that person — problem is, they may not look the same on you.

Therefore, I tend to seek out writing help only when I need it — if I’m in trouble, stuck on something, at my wit’s end. For example, I remember when I was working on the first draft of Baby Grand in the summer of 2010 and I was stumped on a death scene. I felt like what I was writing was so cliche and uninteresting. So I went to Twitter and asked if anyone had any suggestions, and someone replied with this: Do something that would otherwise be humorous if the situation weren’t so dire. And just with that advice, written in under 140 characters, a light bulb turned on over my head, and I finished my scene. (I am forever grateful.)

Another example: Recently, I was interested in turning Baby Grand into an audiobook, so I attended a recent ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) seminar on audiobooks. My research tends to be very focused and concentrated. If I have a question, I’ll seek answers. Otherwise, I treat writing like I do parenting — I just go with my gut. I keep my eyes and ears open, yes, because sometimes you come across information (hopefully, on this blog) that can help you out, but overall I find that all the answers to the questions I haven’t asked I already have.


5 thoughts on “Writing Tip #103

  1. I like the organic model as well. If I did everything I “should” do, I wouldn’t have any fun writing.

    Some of my best advice comes from my 11-year-old son. I’ll read a passage to him that sounds fine to my unavoidably biased ears, and he’ll tell me if something sounds awkward or breaks the rhythm, even when he doesn’t fully grasp the meaning. It’s always better after I make the change, too.

    • Hey, Doreen! I’m just about at the end of the audiobook process for BABY GRAND. I found it to be great fun and worthwhile! I’ll be writing a blog post about it in the coming days. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Many writers preach what works for them without seeming to realize there is no one right way to do things or that people are different. “Here’s what I did, so here’s what you should do.” It smacks of narcissism. Hopefully there is less of this nowadays and more writing tips like yours that acknowledge the particular perspective of the writer.

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