Recently, I engaged in a writer’s discussion about outlining. It’s fascinating how quickly people become defensive of the way they do… anything. To outline or not to outline – that was the question. I’m of the opinion writing is an art. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. I’m not talking about the basic rules of grammar or storytelling, rather the process in which those stories are developed. When it comes to creativity, everyone is different. I get it. My way is the right way for me, right now. But that could all change tomorrow. Often writers will have a different process for each book they write, which is absolutely fine. It’s their work. They have to choose what works best for them and their story.
My issue is with those who have no interest in hearing another’s way of doing things. Maybe I’m hardheaded. I want to explore different ways of honing my craft. Others may not. I certainly don’t expect to impose my choices on others. But when someone cries out for help, then refuses to entertain suggestions from others, it’s, for lack of a better word, annoying.
Example: You engage in a discussion about writer’s block. Someone is having trouble getting past a certain point in their story or has written themselves into a corner they can’t see their way out of. They moan and groan about giving up. So you offer up what has worked for you in the past in an attempt to be helpful. And what do you get for your trouble? “Oh no. I can’t do it that way.” Okay, no problem. How about X? Or maybe Y as a solution. “Nope. I don’t write like that. That’s not how I do things.”
Listen, I’m a newbie. I’m not here to preach about the right or wrong way to do things. Everyone has to discover what’s right for them. I’m still discovering what’s right for me. But just like a picky eater who proclaims their hate for certain foods they’ve never tried, it makes the stubborn writer, determined to be above anyone else’s suggestions, seem ridiculous. There’s no such thing as a writer who knows everything about writing. I freely admit, I know next to nothing about writing. I’m learning as I go. Just like painting or sculpting, writing is an art and its beauty depends on the eye of the beholder. However, even artists learn techniques from other artists.
Personally, I love learning new techniques and ways to improve or hone my craft. Part of this wonderful journey I’ve embarked on – to learn and develop as a writer – is discovering hidden treasures along the way.
Keep an open mind. Don’t ever think trying something new is an attack on the way you do things. Think of it as an adventure. An exploration of the possibilities. Some paths are more exciting than others. You can drive down the same road every day, with the same view, and the same bumps in the road. Or you can choose to explore different roads, knowing some could lead to dead ends, but others may lead to exotic places you’ve ever only dreamed of.
Don’t put up roadblocks. Enjoy the journey.
I was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and have a husband and two children. Music is an addiction. I can often be found in the car, singing along at the top of my lungs to whatever is playing. I work full time, and I split my spare time between family, reading, blogging, and writing. I’m a habitual quoter. Lines from films and TV shows constantly pop into my head—my kids are the only ones that really get it. I’m an only child, and so of course I married a man who is one of ten children. Other than English, I speak Spanish, Moroccan, and a little French. I love to travel, but don’t do enough of it. Reading has been a passion for most of my life and I now love writing. I’m klutz, and in my own mind, I’m hilarious.
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