Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Why I Don't Write About Writing

Well, writing techniques, anyway.

I do write quite a bit about the actual quirks of writing -- writer's arse, habits and such -- but I've never been comfortable advising others on writing techniques. I have no problem talking about my own if someone asks, but I really believe that every writer is different and you need to find what works for you. Plus, there are a zillion writers out there way more qualified to discuss techniques than me (than I? See?!)!

When I first started writing, all the books and blogs I read boggled my mind. Write every day. Don't write every day. Write what you love. Write for the market. And on and on, until I had no idea where to even start. Should I sit down in the chair? Or should I stand? Should I turn on the radio, or write in silence?

The one thing I did learn was this: read all the books, but don't live by any of them. Do what you enjoy; what really makes you embrace the process of writing. I truly believe if you do that, everything will fall into place.

You'll find your rhythm, baby.

71 comments:

  1. I absolutely agree. What works for one writer might be useless for another. Trying to follow too much advice can only lead to madness! Well, and unproductivity. The best advice for writing a book is just to write it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Totally! I read all the stuff I can get my hands (and my eyes) on. Then I take what I like and leave the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm with the other commenters....
    I find your take on this issue quite refreshing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes yes yes! It seems that everything I read contradicts everything else I read, unless it's a post like yours saying find what works for you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You're so right! We're all different and have to find what works for us.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Talli .. it's finding our own voice isn't it .. I'm totally quirky with my ellipses - but it's become me ...

    I'd love to have someone one day explain English to me - haven't a clue .. it all got muddled up at 12 or 13 with Latin, French and English Language - what's that?!

    Cheers - Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have been thinking about this over the last weeks as well. With so much information out there, it's a catch as catch can thing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I enjoy your spirit that comes through with every post you write. It is your spirit that inspires me to keep writing. The best advise I ever received was just do it; just write and the path will become clearer as you go.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lovely Talli!!! You so have rythm! Yay! I say do what you enjoy too - so off I go to get another choccie muffin! Yay! take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  10. p.s. I can't spell rhythm! x

    ReplyDelete
  11. Exactly! I try to do the same. I write about writing on Mondays, but I try to never go into specifics in any way.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I agree, keep the passion for the writing process burning, and the rest is in the hands of the goddess!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hear, hear! I'll admit, if I see a blog title that has to do with writing process, 9/10 times I won't read it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, Talli, I love love love you for this post because it is exactly how I feel - about writing about writing and about how to go about writing myself. Thank you for expressing my feelings so well.
    Karen

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great post. I love reading your blog. I'm still a noobie at reading other writers and blogging, and it can be very confusing at times.

    Luckily I was writing fiction beforehand, so I have a good idea how it works for me.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Totally agree. Take everything with a grain of salt until you find your own speed.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great post.
    There is a huge industry built up around writing, we have to remember that all the great writers didn't have or need that advice.
    I think finding your own individual voice is the only thing that matters.

    ReplyDelete
  18. That's what it's all about, finding our rhythm, hitting our stride. I've even found that too much time reading how-to's takes away from the actual craft. There's nothing like the experience of actually sitting down and putting pen to paper. What do they say ... Experience is the best teacher?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I could never offer any writing advice other than to keep writing. Learning is important, but the best way to learn one's own process is to write and revise one's own books.

    Many of the writing craft books are just a reiteration of the best advice that already exists--it's just packaged differently. I think I need to hear the same thing, three different ways, before it clicks!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I use writing blogs to motivate me. It's true that many writing blogs are repeating the stuff learned before.

    I write about writing not to teach but to remind myself. All my research I save on my blog.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I totally agree. There's no one right way to do things. Do what works for you and what inspires you.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I couldn’t agree more, and it’s so refreshing to see someone finally saying it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. It is mind boggling. I have my own method, and two favourite guide books. Before I whittled them down, I was overwhelmed by advice blogs, books and articles.

    I am thrilled to find out this week I have writer's arse. I am finally making my way in the writing world! ;0

    ReplyDelete
  24. I agree, Talli. I like writing about what works for me, in case it helps someone else, but everyone has to find their own way.

    I know one writer who has incredible online resources about writing technique. They're fascinating and I love to read them, but I couldn't possibly work the way she does. It's just not me!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Couldn't agree w/ you more. You can read Stephen King's book about writing but it's just a guide. If you wanna write, go ahead.

    The only person I ever influenced was a former co-worker. She complained about EVERYTHING. Finally I told her to write. She said she couldn't. & she didn't. But she quit complaining around me!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Writing advice sounds like diet advise. Something different works for everyone. What I like about writing is the warm air that blows off my computer. Keeps me very toasty.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Very true. Read widely and keep writing. The act of writing is the best technique of all.

    ReplyDelete
  28. So right. At one point though, I was spending so much time reading about writing that I wasn't actually writing anymore. Sometimes you have to put the books down, trust what you know and bring your worlds to life.

    ReplyDelete
  29. If I were to direct any writer to a bit of advice, it would be the last sentence of this post.

    I believe manuals on writing are about as useful as manuals on breathing. Focus on the mechanics of either long enough and nothing good can come of it.

    Awesome post, Tall. One of your best.

    ReplyDelete
  30. It is hard to write about writing, you're right (that's a lot of writes, lol!). Like any art it is subjective. Great point!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I completely agree. My writing practices are not for the fainthearted I tell you. If I had to tell someone how to write, they'd probably screw up their nose and say, huh?

    Okay, so this is not so good for my writer's workshop. That's why I specifically say I'm not teaching technique, but offering support in channeling what works for the individual. You gotta do what's right for you.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Brilliant post, Talli! You're so right. I used to like to read 'books for writers', but I now find them off putting. I can feel very intimidated by successful writers, then the fear of failure stops me writing. I'm well in my stride writing this week (3 different projects) and I can't let myself be side-tracked by reading about other writers and how they do it! I read, read, read short stories and novels, as well as non-fiction books for research, and this really helps. I just have to keep writing as much as possible, exercising the muscle and hope I will have enough 'quality work' to submit. I love the comparison with diets, here. By following someone else's diet, you're living a life that isn't yours. Same goes for writing, I think!

    ReplyDelete
  33. I agree completely. Every writer has a different process; it's important to find your own rhythm.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Always write what you love! Even with blogging, there's no rule that says you must write about writing techniques. I don't either, but I do think it's great there are blogs out there that offer advice. Rather than get boggled down reading tons of conflicting ideas though, I choose to read just a few, folk that I think really know their stuff. Am always grateful to them for freely dispensing wisdom!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love this post! When I first started writing, all I read about were 'rules' (and I seemed to break most of them). There are some incredibly useful books and blogs out there on writing, but it's easy to get overwhelmed with questionable advice. I think it's best to stick to the people you trust to advise you and then find your own way.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Well said and well put....I could not agree more. x

    ReplyDelete
  37. Exactly so.

    I got to that stage where I had consulted all Those Who Knew and got conflicting advice from these giants.

    I would never have learned so much without them, but now it's up to me.

    We start hesitantly, we learn, then we emancipate ourselves and fly.

    (Hopefully not to land heavily in a nasty sticky mess...)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Talli, I share your sentiment! I'm like the last person to offer writing tips.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I couldn't agree more. I think trying to come up with a onesizefitsall writing method is a waste of time. Writers are individuals, and their methods reflect that.

    ReplyDelete
  40. You're so right- know the 'rules' before you break them, but do break them. :)

    ReplyDelete
  41. There's definitely a lot of conflicting advice. Everyone's process is so different! Excellent point :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. So true, Talli.


    I go with the flow/muse. Do what's comfortable and Be PASSIONATE about what you write.

    ReplyDelete
  43. it's kind of like being catholic...;)

    ReplyDelete
  44. Great advice! All writers write differently. Writing books and blogs are just there to give us options of various writing techniques to choose from. :)
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

    ReplyDelete
  45. Good point... I got lost in that sea of books, advice and counter advice. so much so I forgot to write!
    oops...
    Love your closing line!
    Lx

    ReplyDelete
  46. Thought I'd commented - apparently not! It's good to read what others advise - and then to make up your own mind. I've never trusted those who took other people's opinions and tried to assimilate them . . .

    ReplyDelete
  47. I enjoy your post. The most important thing is keeping the passion.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Everyone has their own writing style and technique. I enjoy reading about others, but I do what works best for me.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Yes, yes, yes. When I first started blogging all the advice was mind boggling. I liked it though,because it should me there everyone has there own preference.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I know what you mean. I think I'm not qualified to tell other writers what to do and how to go about doing it. I write about characters and what works for me on my journey.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I try to give advice that's true for me. More of an insight into how I approach writing. It works for me, but I know that by no means is my way right for everybody.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hi,

    What's the saying: Those who can do, those who can't teach!

    Bit mean is that quote, but a teacher who gets good results and holds student attention is more often than not one whom applies the "Show don't Tell" method: teaches by example! ;)

    best
    F

    ReplyDelete
  53. You must be true to yourself and write the way you feel comfortable. Following other's advice all the time only stops you developing your own potential to the maximum, I think...

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hey, girl! I'm totally with you. I do what I do, but that doesn't mean what I do will work for you. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  55. Great words of wisdom. Thanks for your insight. :)

    ReplyDelete
  56. Yay for finding what works for you! I love getting writerly advice, but I know that I can't always follow everything--I have to find my own way.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I love this advice. So many times I've let what I've read steer my off course. The doubts creep in and then I just stop because of fear of failure. I'm not good enough. I'm not good - period. Thanks for reminding us that everyone is unique. If you love it, do it.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Well said!
    I keep telling myself: every moment I spend reading about how to write, I'm not actually writing!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Which is exactly why I am now trying to Blog Without Obligation :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. So true Talli, it's all down to personal preference. When I started my blog, I imparted writerly knowledge that I had picked up on the way in my posts in a very authorative way and then I started reading other's similar posts and realised how pretentious it all sounded. Who was i to tell others how to write?
    So now I post snippets of what I've gleaned with examples of my own successes and failures, which seems much better.:O)

    ReplyDelete
  61. I agree wholeheartedly. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a workshop on revision. While I culled a few techniques that might work for me, most of it was just too complicated for me. Reading, workshops, talking to other authors - I love getting ideas even if I don't incorporate them.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I love this post! There are so many differing opinions out there on what makes a great writer it can get confusing. Blog about what you want to blog about and enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
  63. Oh I agree! Thank you for saying it.

    And, no matter what you write about Talli - your blog is awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  64. Hear hear!
    I think your latest post is a good one too - about what makes books sell. Oh, and read your interview over at chicklit club (didn't realise they don't do comments) - it must be fn having the plot come to you like that! I always get the characters first, and have to push and prod them into plot-y situations :-)

    ReplyDelete

Coffee and wine for all!