Monday, September 26

It's about the learning

One of the greatest things about being a writer is that as long as you're doing it, you never stop learning. You have some basics already, things you've read and osmosed before you even started your journey into the madness that is the writing life. Like these:

  • Write what you know.
  • Writers are born, not taught.
  • One POV to a scene. 
  • Write every day.
  • Love to write.
  • All genre fiction is formulaic.
  • Write what you know.

Got all those? Or, should I say, had all those? Because they're mostly wrong, aren't they? As you go along,  your list of what you know becomes longer and less neatly drawn. Those imaginary lines around that list? You can't color inside them. You shouldn't even try. Because:

  • Must of us don't know enough to keep writing what we know. I'm 66 and I'd have been done by the time I was 29. And that's giving myself a break on what I think I know.
  • I think I was born to write. I do. But I don't think all writers are. I think some of them just learn that well. I am bitterly envious of those who can.
  • I DO write with one POV to a scene, but only because I've been badgered into it and the truth is I'm pretty naturally compliant (not one of my favorite traits about myself.) When I read, I'm perfectly happy with more than one POV. Go figure.
  • Most of the time, I write every day. But when I don't, I don't. The sky doesn't fall, the manuscript doesn't curl up and die. My family still loves me. My reason for writing every day is that as long as I do, I can slip easily back into the place I left. If I have some off days in there, it takes longer to get comfortable on page 73.
  • I love to write more than any other one thing in my life--no, not more than the people there--but more than any other activity. I just read A Wilder Rose, about Rose Wilder Lane, and was surprised to learn that she didn't love writing at all but was very good at it. For her, it was a living. I guess for me it's life.
  • I think genre fiction is formulaic in large part. So? I've never understood the problem with that. You read what you like, right?
  • If you write what you don't know, you learn about it. Back we go to one of the "greatest things."

 What about you? Tell us what you thought you knew then and what you think you know now.

Have a great week!



  1. I'm taking a self-editing class from Angela James from Carina Press and I was surprised to hear her say she had no no problem with more than one POV per scene as long as it was clear whose head we were in. Like you, I had it drilled into my head that we should use one POV per scene. Period. So that's what I did. I find it liberating to know that if the need arises, I can use that device.

    The thing about writing what I know? Hah! That would be a very short, very boring book. I think it's more like 'write what you can research and figure out.' Cheers!

    1. I think Angela James is one of the most wonderfully common-sense editors the industry is fortunate enough to have. She and Mallory Braus, my editor, were the primary reasons I so loved writing for Carina Press. If Angela says it's so, I think you can make book on it. :-)

  2. The best thing about writing besides the actual writing, is the learning.

    1. It is a good thing, isn't it? My next best thing (this sounds like a good blog post, doesn't it?) is knowing other writers. Whose thought patterns are as skewed as mine. What a relief that was!

  3. Man, this is a great post, Liz, and pretty much I don't know much. Just when I think I've got it, I discover I don't have it at all--not even close. And yes, I agree completely about knowing other writers are as skewed as I am.

    1. You're right with as soon as I think I know something, I don't! :-)