BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Many Ways to a Destination

I heard about this podcast about writing and thought I'd give it a shot. It was a group of writers talking about various topics, although most of it seemed to be craft related. I decided to download a trial episode and see if I liked it. And I did, so I downloaded all that was available.

Maybe my mistake was in listening to them one right after the other? But they were only a half an hour long and I'd run through all my episodes of Mysterious Universe. I started liking this writing podcast a little bit less with every episode I listened to. One of the writers started to get on my nerves with all the interruptions of others and all the talk about his/her books.

I started skipping around to the topics that interested me. And then I hit the episode that made me delete the entire podcast. They talked about ending a book, and all these self-avowed plotters insisted that the only way any writer could produce a good ending was to outline it before writing the book.

Excuse me?

First of all, if a writer ever says there's only one way to do something, run away. Fast. And ignore everything they say. There are as many ways to write as there are writers. There is no single right way to do anything.

Second, what about seat of the pants writers? Oh, they finally got around to mentioning them, but insisted that even organic writers would benefit from an outline of their book even if they don't write it until they're part way through the story.

I would suggest to these writers that they invite a seat of the pants writer to be part of their podcast since they're giving a very skewed view of writing. Believe it or not, there are plenty of "organic" writers who can produce good books with strong endings. Just because you can't conceive of it, doesn't mean it can't be done.

I've told this story before, but when I was a teenager and realized I wanted to be a writer, I went to the library and read all the books they had on the topic. Every single one insisted to be a real writer you had to plot out your story in advance on 3x5 cards.

Since I wanted to be a real, professional writer, I bought those 3x5 cards and tried to plot like they said. I couldn't do it. Not only couldn't I do it, but it made me hate writing.

Finally, I realized that I hated the index cards enough to quit writing all together rather than do them. That's when I tossed them in the drawer and said, "Maybe I'll never be a real writer, but at least I can have fun writing again."

Don't kill someone's dream by saying your way is the only way to be a real writer. It's not.