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Kitchen Sink

How To Write. Again.

February 20th, 2011

{{Last re-repost. My brain will be back from the mountains tomorrow. And I think about the below all the time.}}


How to write. I ask myself this question almost every day. Because I overthink, and because I second guess, and because I doubt, and because I can be better, but I don’t know how.


Writing is like combing hair. You stand in front of the mirror trying to coax your hair into shape. And a strand falls out of place, so you comb it, but in combing that strand, you’ve mussed the other strands and there is no way in hell all the hair strands will stay neat and in place, because each strand lies atop another and the ripple effect says you could comb all night and still, your hair won’t be perfect.


I look around. I read what’s out there. I get impressed. I wish I could write like that. I hang my head in shame. I wonder what all the great writing has in common. I agonize over writing. I re-read my stuff and I cringe. It is clunky and it is trying too hard and it is ineloquent and it’s not funny or touching. My voice doesn’t shine through, and if it does, I find it annoying.


Sometimes I think I’ve got it figured out. There are all different kinds of writing, but there are common threads.


But maybe it comes down to the one thing that eludes me…my How To Write Tip #1:


Be Confident.

Just put it out there. Your voice. Don’t erase stuff you think is inappropriate. Have faith in your word choice. Don’t self censor. Adopt a sure tone that tells the world you are in charge of your prose. I love reading people who say the silliest things or the most painful things or the deepest things or the most asshole things and just let their souls seep unto the page without saying sorry. It’s so pure. And honestly, I’ve read some pretty crappy writing that sounds a whole hell of a lot better simply because the author sounds like they could care less what I think. But confidence applies mostly to good writing.

I think.


Pretty sure my highest self just talked to me.


On February 20th, 2011, Trish said:

I’m pretty sure all writers have this problem with confidence and the inner critic. I try to stifle that voice that says my writing is shit and I should stop now. I stifle her with vodka. But I hear you can lock her in a basement too. Whatever works for you.

On February 20th, 2011, melissa said:

You said it sister. Confidence and passion makes the writing sing more than insecurity and wishfulness. Now if I can believe that, too!!!

On February 20th, 2011, diamond dave said:

My problem is that I have short bursts where I actually think I put something out pretty good. But most of the time it feels forced. I start on what I think is a pretty good idea, then it kind of peters out halfway through. Or I get overpassionate about expressing myself, and I end up rambling.

But what scares me the most is that some people think I write pretty good. I find that hard to believe, and chalk it up to accidental moments where it all comes together and doesn’t sound like more blathering.

On February 20th, 2011, Ferd said:

Yes, I imagine a writer has to take that, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” kind of mentality. You have to write in your own unique voice, and maybe, just maybe it will be something others want to read. There’s no guarantee of that, but one would never know unless one tried. You have to get tough and forge past doubts and insecurities. You have to feel the fear and the anxiety, but do it anyway.

On February 20th, 2011, Jack said:

There is much truth in this.

On February 20th, 2011, Jenn Sullivan said:

I am going to take this post as personal advice just to me because why not, it’s sounds good and I needed to hear it. I like the re-posts since I’m new to your blog and haven’t read all the past posts, so thanks!

On February 20th, 2011, San Diego Momma said:

I don’t know if I’d take anything I say as advice. Because: 42-year-old unpublished novel writer.

Love all your comments. Thanks!

On February 21st, 2011, foolery said:

I think this may be the single best piece of advice to a budding writer, Deb. And we all need to be reminded of it occasionally, too. I am not particularly confident in any area of my life EXCEPT my writer’s voice, and that’s only recently. And it’s probably misguided confidence. But it’s mine all mine and I’ll follow it right down that rat hole because of that fact.

(Also — you are one of my favorite voices. You know that, right?)

On February 21st, 2011, Nancy Beck said:

I read what’s out there. I get impressed. I wish I could write like that.

This is me! I read just a sample of an ebook novel the other day and was thinking just that. (I’ll buy it some point, though, lol.) Heck, I even got psyched out by a how-to book (by Dwight Swain)! It was so bad for me I got rid of it, gave it away on Paperback Swap.

But I just received some nice compliments from someone whose first chapter I critted (just don’t have the time to do the entire story for her right now). Really stoked my ego.

Thing is, I *know* I can write; I actually managed to sell a short a number of years ago, so I know I have it in me.

Which is why I read The Writer’s Book of Hope whenever I’m thinking, poor widdle me. ;-)

On February 21st, 2011, Mama Mary said:

Great tip, D! I need that now, as I sit down to re-write my introduction for the 100th time. : ) xoxo

On February 22nd, 2011, tinsenpup said:

That last paragraph felt like it was addressed to me too. :) I’ve been thinking a lot about being more real; about forcing myself to stop trying to please. It’s easier said than done.

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