Once upon a time, I had a blog called “Why Should I Listen To You?” That blog foundered because it was unfocussed (and ultimately died because of platform obsolescence), but the question posed by its title is still relevant: why should you listen to me, or indeed anybody?
This is a blog about writing in general, but it is drawn from my writing experiences and my exploration of how I write – discovery writing for process, if you will. It is in my nature to need to constantly change what I do in order to keep things fresh. There are invariants in how I approach planning and writing, but my process of story generation and reification is always in flux, otherwise I fear I would always write the same stories.
What I try to impart here then are lessons and practices which I find helpful and which I hope others will find of interest: your mileage, as the hackerly saying goes, may vary. Indeed, I would be quite shocked if it didn’t: you, dear reader, are not me and I am not you. Our brains work differently, and our experiences take us in different directions.
So what is the value of advice? What is the point of writing or reading about this practice of wordsmithery?
What I get out of reading about writing is to keep the craft at the front of my mind – to make me more conscious of what I can improve and where I’m going next – regardless of whether I really learn anything new. I find these kinds of tracts especially useful during drafting prep and execution, but different texts are appropriate at different times. I also get a lot out of writing about my process and my creative activities in general: the best way to learn something is to teach it, as the saying goes.
But I’m not writing here to be prescriptive. There are rules to writing – spelling, grammar, certain narrative structures – but those exist to give common ground for you to communicate your ideas. These rules can be broken to make a point (see Spunk and Bite for some excellent examples) but the things I usually write about here, though sometimes presented as rules and procedures, are really more in the way of guoideloines, if you’ll pardon my Pirate. If something really is a hard and fast rule it’s usually effective to try following it for a bit just so you know the parameters of how it can be broken, but I’m not going to claim that much of what I write here can be elevated to that lofty level.
In short, I write down what works for me because doing so helps me explore and solidify my practice. If those concepts are of use to you then that is a truly glorious outcome.
And I am glad you’re here.