The Write Way to Right.

I did that on purpose. With the title.

I think I'm clever.

I'm not always.

But mainly, I don't want you to think I'm a complete idiot.


So, I'm in this incredible study right now. It's called Restless by Jennie Allen. And it is one of those books that you can feel revolutionizing your entire existence page by page.

I mean, it's THAT good.

You will read that book and never be the same.

I promise.

So, the book is all about finding out what you were made for. Made to do.

And even though I feel like I have this pretty clear picture about my role in life- to be a writer- I have still picked up incredible thoughts with every single page.

So. Go read it!!!

But, moving on to the point of this particular blog.

I feel like, if you're trying to be a writer. If you have opened a word doc and you feel a story brewing inside you. If you've seen this story through to the end and feel compelled to publish it in one way or another, then you also feel like your purpose in life is to write.

Writing. Being a writer. Struggling as a writer. And dealing with everything in the writer-world is not an easy task.

Instead, it's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do.

I messaged an old friend of mine this week. I think she needs to write a book. She has a beautiful voice and such a unique way of telling stories that every time she writes something, even as simple as a facebook post, I am drawn in. We haven't been friends for years and years, but thanks to social media, we can still follow each other's lives.

Anyway, I messaged her after I started a different book (One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp) and encouraged her to write.

She mentioned that she was already writing one- which made me so excited. We talked for a while and then she said something about this whole thing sounding like the perfect career.

It took me back to before I had this job. Before I could call it a job. Back to when all I had were words on a page and dreams and hopes and a drive to make other people read those words.

It did sound perfect then.

But now that I'm living it, I can firmly tell you, it is not.

In fact, it is so imperfect that sometimes I now dream about any. other. job.

Just kidding.

Well... Just half-kidding.

Seriously. This is hard work. From start to finish. From dawn until well after midnight. Every single day of your life.

And then, after all that... you get to read bad reviews and listen to all the feedback telling you YOU SUCK.

So no. It's far, far, far from perfect.

And that's why I've come to the conclusion that either all writers are insane. Or. We feel this innate call that won't let us do anything else. We feel such an irresistible drive to write and publish that we put up with everything else because there is no other way for us.

We can't help it.

We can't ignore it.

And we certainly can't survive without it.

If you're not a writer, right now you're thinking.. You really are all bananas. You people are crazy.

If you're a writer, no matter what kind, fiction, non-fiction, blogger, journal-er, poet, right now you're thinking AMEN! Preach it. Praise, Jesus, hallelujah. (That last one was an Iggy Azaela reference. Just in case you didn't catch it.)

So, here you are with all these thoughts and this insistent need to put words on a page, but that's it. You're in the Now What stage of life.

What do you write? And how do you make what you write good? Worth reading? Worth publishing?

There are entire worlds in your head. Characters that shout at you and whisper to you and that have all these different personalities and voices and you just don't know where to start.

Well, besides the obvious which is to just PICK ONE. I'm going to give you the best piece of advice I can give you.

Write what you know.

Ok, I might be stealing this from Anne of Avonlea. But the truth is there.

And it's about the purest truth I can give you.

Write. What. You. Know.

This could mean lots of different things. It could mean that you write about the town you grew up in or base a fictional place on the town you grew up in. Or places that you go. Experiences you have experienced.

Or, on a more useful level, I mean, on the things you know inside of you.

Make your characters come alive by putting pieces of you into them. Make your fictional relationships ring true to your readers by giving them problems you've faced in your own relationships.

Not exactly what happened between you and such and such person, but the concept.

The hardest thing to write is emotions. I think anyway. To put real emotions into your story and make those characters feel.

It's uncomfortable. It often feels silly. And it maybe seems over the top.

But emotions are our biggest weapon as writers. This is how we slay stories and give them immortality.

You have to be honest. And authentic. And you have to sweat, cry and bleed right along with your characters.

I'll give you an example.

I write horror.

It took me a little while to admit this to myself. But it's true.

I write Zombie Horror.

Here's the thing. I don't watch horror movies.

I don't even watch horror movie previews. I turn the station or leave the room or cover my eyes and hum camp songs.

I am a big ol' chicken.

I'm trying to watch Supernatural right now and I literally can't watch it by myself. My husband has to be in the room and then I have to go to bed before he does and make sure I'm tucked in tight and spooning a pillow.

I'm scared of everything!!

So if I don't watch horror or Zombie shows or anything remotely scary... how do I write something that terrifies readers?

I don't have to watch horror to feel afraid.

I know what it's like to experience fear. I have been scared to the point my heart pounds in my chest, my blood rushes through my ears and my fingers tremble.

I have raced up the stairs at the end of the night when the main house is dark because I can imagine monsters chasing me.

I have felt fear acutely and therefore I know it. I can write about it.

That applies to all avenues of writing. Adrenaline. I might not have ever been in a physical fight before but I've been so full of adrenaline that I could imagine what feels like to have to struggle for life, for breath.

The whole love-triangle thing. Of which I seem to write a lot of.

I personally have never loved two boys at the same time.

In fact, I've only ever loved one boy my entire life.

But that love is strong enough that imagining loving two people with that kind of intensity seems pretty shattering to me.

Do you get the idea?

Inauthentic writing does not draw a reader in. It does not motivate the reader to stay. And it does not encourage the reader to come back.

You want readers to turn into fans that turn into loyal fans? Then you have to give them something real.

Something so raw and true that they are moved by it.

Write what you know.

And write it so that others know you know it.

Write it so that they know it too.  


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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to offer encouragement to intimidated, often befuddled, authors. Self-doubting authors that look at this industry and think, yikes! Because deciding to write has never been a problem. I was made to do it. Putting your writing out there and being confident in your work, that's harder. So, thanks. Thanks for saying, go write. Thanks for saying, go be real. Thanks for reminding me and encouraging me that I just need to keep writing what I know.
    And I am doing the study, STUCK, right now by Jennie Allen, and it was written just for me. Seriously, don't know how Jennie knew to write for me, but she did! ;) Thanks again. I'm off to edit the book of what I know, the book that insisted it be written.
    Random footnote: Star-crossed series (I'm a purest, so particularly the first four.) is at the top of my best books ever list!