My Best Writing Advice: Write like you write.

25 Nov

Here’s the thing: No, we are not all perfect snowflakes. I believe that all people, not just writers, have a lot more in common than it may be comfortable to admit.  Let’s face it, we can all be A-holes, sometimes. It’s just a matter of degree if that does or does not make any one of us *an* A-hole, indisputably and always.

However, there is enough variation within the homo sapiens species that we do not all work the same way, not to best effect. Two people can get where they are going by two different routes. Maybe one gets there faster, and maybe the other has more fun ’cuz they lollygagged along a sun-dappled brook. And maybe the person getting there first would have enjoyed a stroll, while the other is sorry they’re late. You never really can tell how it’s going to work out. But they did both get there, eventually.

I said that so I could say this, mostly to my fellow scribblers and keyboard thumpers. One of the things that a lot of us writerly types seem to enjoy ad nauseam is talking to each other about how we write. That can mean the mechanics of how we do the do: “I take my laptop out on the porch, I have to wait until the coffee’s ready, I write by hand, I write naked in the shower under a plastic hood, I write when I wake up in the middle of the night, I write with a quill dipped in the tears of my vanquished enemies,” etc., etc.

There are just as many variations in how we go about telling a story. We can outline every plot point on color-coded index cards, or storyboard, or dress our house pets as our main characters and follow them around taking notes. We can open a blank file and stare at it until the muse starts whispering in our ear, or gives us a wedgie. We can go from point A to point E via points B, C, and D, or we can just wander around until we get sleepy.  One page a day, 10,000 words a day, or any spare sentence we can scribble down between other obligations.

The possibilities may not be endless, but there is an awful lot of them, and any one of us could do things differently the next time.  It’s just a matter of finding what works for each of us, and going with it. That’s really all any of us can do. But here’s the thing:

When we are all hanging out and talking about our own idiosyncrasies to each other, there is often a point when it is going to sound like we are telling each other what to do. This is for two reasons. 1.) Some people are A-holes with great frequency and gusto. And 2.) A lot of us earnestly want to help each other, so we’re going to suggest you try what works for us, in the hopes that it will work for you.

If you want, give something different a shot. Take somebody else’s crazy-go-nuttiness out for a spin, and see if it does anything for you. But if it doesn’t, don’t feel bad, and don’t worry. You’re not “writing” wrong, because there is no wrong or right to a process so fraught with brain chemistry and gastro-intestinal rumblings and sheer, inexplicable magic. There is only what works FOR YOU, at any given moment. Knock around ‘til you find it, and go with it for as long as it will let you.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks for writing like you do.



Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Writing


13 responses to “My Best Writing Advice: Write like you write.

  1. shayfabbro

    November 25, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Well said my friend!!! 😀


    November 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    i’m still knocking around trying to find it, but eventually i will. *keep telling myself that*

  3. medmcn

    November 25, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    Thanks, Shay. 🙂 And it may be one those “more the journey than the destination” things, Alan. 😉

  4. John H. Carroll (@kookoo88)

    November 25, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Nicely said and very true.. I personally write while surrounded by emo bunnies. It’s not for everyone though. 🙂

  5. stephenhise

    November 25, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    A great post, Ed and well said. “I write with a quill dipped in the tears of my vanquished enemies.” Love that line.

  6. Heather

    November 25, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Fabulous post, Ed. Going back to my 9th cup of coffee and the six Word documents open on my computer now.

    • medmcn

      November 25, 2011 at 9:32 pm

      Six? You’re dogging it today, Haytch. 😉 And t’anks, Mr. ‘ise.

  7. Chris G.

    November 25, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    One surely shouldn’t mold their craft to someone else’s style…an art based on imitation is never so grand as as one that owns their art, that makes it their own. You’re quite right – try different things! Find what works for you…And I must concur, “I write with a quill dipped in the tears of my vanquished enemies” is just a great line all around.

  8. Linda welch

    November 26, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Nice one, Ed.

  9. Marla Heller Blowers

    November 26, 2011 at 1:54 am

    What a great article. Thanks for taking the time to tell it like it is.

  10. Red Tash

    November 27, 2011 at 1:27 am

    Ed, I told you not to tell anyone I write naked in the shower under a plastic hood. Thank God you didn’t post the videos!

    • medmcn

      November 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      Well if it was good enough for Agathie Christie…. 😉


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