Alone At The Keyboard

I realized yesterday as I was thrashing around in one chapter in “1787,” I had opened with a journal entry, and that “first person” perspective helped better illuminate what happened immediately afterwards in the narrative. I’d stumbled on that approach by accident and it seemed to work. I may do more of it.

Or I may not. Or I may revise it. I’ll see how it goes in the months to come.

Kindle "art." [Photo by me, 2016.]

Kindle “art.” [Photo by me, 2016.]

The web is full of authors offering writing advice. I’ve encountered them like you have. My best advice based on what I’ve learned: Don’t listen too much to other authors who tell you how to write.

Kindle view of a page of "Passports." [Photo by me, 2016.]

Kindle view of a page of “Passports.” [Photo by me, 2016.]

I reached this point via history, not majoring in English literature or writing for a college newspaper. Every author gets to his/her writing having traveled a different life path beforehand. If you write, chances are what led you to write is almost certainly not the same thing that has led me to do so.

As long as you are writing in a way that’s understandable to readers and engages them, craft your tale the way you best see fit. There are certain grammar and style fundamentals others can share, yes, but in the end someone else can’t really tell you how to write your story. You need to figure it out for yourself.

Kindle view of a page of an extremely well-known novel. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Kindle view of a page of an extremely well-known novel. [Photo by me, 2016.]

So be careful when asking other authors for an opinion. It being “human nature,” they may well drift into giving you writing advice that justifies how they themselves write. That might be great for them, but it won’t necessarily work for you.

Have a good day, wherever you are in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

4 replies »

  1. Completely agree. I never read any articles telling you how to write. Of course we can all improve – but that usually comes with experience. Your voice will only ever be your voice. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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    • I think we see so much “Don’t do this” or “Don’t write that” finger-wagging. Darn it, if I think it works, and it’s not ILLEGAL, there’s nothing wrong with trying it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Writing โ€œaccidentsโ€ are great, arenโ€™t they? My first novel was entirely an accident (it even includes one top-of-chapter journal entry. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) My creative writing comes from a “non-trained” background, too (one university business writing course, and the experience of reading and writing tons of medical research papers).

    Your observations about guru writing advice correspond with mine. Most struggling writers would benefit greatly if they would adopt the kind of faith and flexibility that you advocate here.

    As a retired healthcare professional, Iโ€™m strongly interested in the psychology of writing, and its benefits for human health, so on my blog, Iโ€™ve protested against the adverse effects of most guru writing advice. In an effort to help others break out of restrictions into freer guidance, I wrote a series of posts about what I call “The 7 Reasonable Rules of Writing” ( If you find the time to browse these essays, I’d appreciate having your take on the topics.

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