Monday, March 26, 2007

Doing it your way

Anybody who knows me knows I'm a big fan of writing what you want the way you want to write it. I think that's the best way to keep the creative well filled.

So there I was, wandering around the internet, and I found this article by Julie Elizabeth Leto, "DITCHING "THE BOOK OF MY HEART" for "THE BOOK OF MY VOICE". She defines a "book of the heart," and what she calls a "book of the voice."

Book of the Voice is closer to what I think an author ought to aim for, or at least the attitude toward one's writing that she describes, which is, basically, let 'er rip and don't worry about what you "should" be doing.

Ms. Leto also advocates writing to your strengths. I've read this sort of thing before, and not in a writing book. It was in a business book, called IF IT AIN'T BROKE...BREAK IT: AND OTHER UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM FOR A CHANGING BUSINESS WORLD" by Robert J. Kriegel and Louis Patler. In a chapter called "Play Your Own Best Game," they write: "Plugging the holes in your game causes you to spend too much time on what doesn't work. Though you may go from poor to fair, you rarely excel at that which is not your strong suit. Then, because you are spending so much time focusing on your weak points, you don't have time to hone the skills you are good at. The result is that you never excel at anything."

Kinda the opposite of what we hear at writing workshops, eh? You're supposed to master everything -- dialogue, setting, emotions.

I like this advice, although I confess I don't precisely follow it. That is, I do work to improve on things that I don't consider my strong suit, such as description. But this also frees me not to worry myself into knots over those elements that are not my strong suit. Work to improve, yes. Go nuts obsessing about? No.

Now, on that note, it's off to write a love scene. These are not my strong suit. But do I work on them? Do I try to make them better with every book? Oh, you betcha!

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