During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encourage you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight to link up your story by clicking here.) And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to my dear friend — the outstanding Deidra Riggs.
Ernest Hemingway wrote for six hours each day. Or 700 words. Whichever came first. Julia Cameron says a writer should pump out 300 words. Every single day. No matter what. Anne Lamott encourages a less-than-perfect first draft (my paraphrase) as a way to get started. And these are all good. Very good, in fact. They must be good, right? Consider the sources, after all.
But what about when these great ideas don’t work for you? After all, this series about writing is for you, is it not? And there is no need for working up some technique someone else recommends when that technique misfires for you. Your writing techniques and habits need to work with all the magnificent ways you’ve been wired.
So first of all, let’s make sure you don’t lose my point in the middle of these words. Discipline is important. A writer can’t write unless she writes. So, there’s that. But also? You can only be yourself. You can only tell your story. In fact, you can’t help but tell your story.
We admire other writers for the way they string words together. We underline and highlight and we dog-ear pages and we think, “If only I could write like that!” And then, we try it. We mix up our phrases and we check the thesaurus and we try to sound like someone who already sounds like that. And all the while the world is missing the person who sounds like us.
Yes, please pay attention to grammar. Yes, let an editor help with the details and the fine-tuning. Yes, ask for permission before writing about someone else. Yes, resist the urge to write open letters. Yes, take a break from writing so you’ll actually have something to write about. And then…
…be yourself. That is my deeply profound and significant writing tip. Be you. Know that your story matters. Your story is golden and glorious. Be generous with it. Don’t hold back. Be you. You may have to keep writing to find yourself, first. And then — when you’ve stumbled right into your comfortable, natural, believable self — write on!
Deidra is the managing editor for TheHighCalling.org. She believes God loves you exactly as you are. No matter what. Connect with Deidra at her blog, where she sets the table and welcomes you to ask hard questions, and to have tough conversations about about grace, race, and the Body of Christ.