Featured #TellHisStory Writer: Deidra Riggs
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.
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This is the very best writing advice ever. And the advice I so often forget to take myself.
I know. I forget it, too. And then I catch myself, wishing I was someone that I’m not. Back to square one, again.
Here you are, in your normal, wonderful Deidra fashion encouraging us with “you are enough.” I agree with Michelle, best advice ever. And I think I’ve been writing on a blog for two years now to find myself. It’s been a glorious expedition.
Thanks for the encouragement, Shelly! It is a fun journey when you meet up with yourself and realize you’ve been there all along.
This. This is solid advice! Thanks, lady. You rock.
Would it be okay for me to rock to disco music? 😉
Thank you for this powerful and encouraging advise. I’ve got a lot more writing to do . . . a lot more stumbling too. Thank you! Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, and live to tell His Story in my life!
The stumbling is part of the journey. Chaos is part of the process. Don’t resist it. Let it do its work in you.
That is do-able! Thank you Deidra for cheering us on to be us!
When my husband was just starting out in the ministry, an older and wiser pastor told him, “When you stand in the pulpit, don’t try to be anyone but you. If you’re not you, then no one is standing in the pulpit. The person you’re trying to be isn’t there, and you’re not there either.” Rah-rah! 🙂
Deidra, I so needed this encouragement. Thank you so much.
I need it, too. Knowing it isn’t the same as doing it, and I often get tripped up trying to write like someone else.
Getting there. What a journey. I hope I don’t give up. Love this advice and the heart that wrote it.
No! Don’t you dare give up! We need your words! I need your words! Write on, girlfriend!
Take a break from writing so I have something to write about. Yeah.
And I like your paraphrase. 🙂
Gotta love Anne Lamott. She really is a great example of this, isn’t she?
Tres bien! Excellent counsel, and I might add, from what I have read on your blog, Deidra, and in meeting you in person at the Jumping Tandem retreat, that you are following your own advice! I like what I read, ergo: I like you! I think that often we learn to write through emulation, but then, in spite of ourselves, our own voice emerges clear and strong, a clarion call to authenticity.And that, in turn, is really answering the call to be who God created us to be! Each of us reflects some facet of Him, so there is a place at the table for each, individual, interesting and unique voice. I would concur with you and Shakespeare: Be true to yourself. When we are, we’re really being true to God.
Thank you, Miss Deidra!
Thank you, Lynn! I always appreciate your thoughtful responses. Your voice. You! What an encourager you are!
Deidra is one of the best people I know at writing just like she sounds. She is herself on the page, and that’s why people are drawn to her written words.
Who was it that said writing is like opening up a vein and letting the blood spill out onto the page? I always thought that was a bit melodramatic. I get the sentiment, though. I thought of those words as I read your comment. “…herself on the page…” It’s true. Writing is like standing naked in the middle of Times Square. Well, that may not really be the best metaphor. I’ve been to Times Square and I doubt anyone would notice me standing there naked. But, writing is a vulnerable act. Sometimes, it’s easier to use someone else’s voice, rather than pressing through to find our own.
Love your advice, and LOVE that photo of you. Gorgeous lady. 🙂
Elizabeth! Come back to Nebraska! I miss you!