Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Be yourself as a writer

Tip of the Day: Don’t ever be afraid to be yourself!

It’s strange Kate brought up writing challenges/exercises yesterday because they have been on my mind. I recently went to a local writing group led by a newspaper humor columnist. Each session he assigns a writing exercise for the group. When we were talking about what type of exercise might be good for that week, someone mentioned maybe it would be helpful to write a humorous piece, even if that’s not in the style of writing we typically write.

He seemed very leery and decided to go a different direction because his feelings with humor were basically you either have it or you don’t. And you can’t force it.

Now I’m never one to think you shouldn’t at least try something once. Because you never know you could be the next Meg Cabot and don’t even know it. But I do think there is some truth to the fact you have to figure out your writing voice and stick with it.

Because let’s face it, most of us aren’t the next Meg Cabot, are we? So it’s best to accept it, move on, and figure out what makes our writing stand out of the pack. If we are just imitating others, it just ain’t goina happen.

Actress/writer Amber Benson wrote an interesting blog article last week about how as an actress it was important for her to figure out who she was and play that up to get roles in Hollywood. Pretending to be the part she thought executives wanted her to be wasn’t working. I think that’s just as important in writing.

Are you good at complex characters? Witty one-liners? Quirky, yet lovable heroines? Dark, mysterious plot lines? Good! Then don’t be afraid to play up your strengths and use them to your advantage.

We don’t always have to be improving our weaknesses. Sometimes it’s just as important to capitalize on our strengths and be ourselves as a writer!

And because I just saw the most hilarious cheerleading movie ever, I thought it might be good to finally whip out my cheering skills:

Picture much hand clapping and cheesy smiles to the rhythm of the Be Aggressive chant:
Be Yourself.
Be ee Yourself.
Be Yourself
Be ee yourself!

(Okay, yeah, maybe I should skip the cheerleading. But at least I tried it once, and figured out it wasn’t for me ;-) Moving on…)

--Emily, Miss Querylicious


amuse me said...

Hee-hee -- I like your shot at cheerleading. Your article is perfect and very thought provoking. While working away at what I think I can do, every now and again I try to insert a new technique and it is refreshing. Whether or not it works, it helps.

DeenaML said...

This is a very good reminder to not write to the trends, either. And to not berrate yourself for your own writing style. Thanks!

Emily Marshall said...

Marion, I'm quite disappointed cheerleading didn't work out, but I guess it will give me a chance to find something that does :) And that's a good idea that sometimes you do have to try new things just for yourself and to keep things fresh. Good point.

Deena, and yes writing to trends is never a good idea. At least that seems to be the consensus.

Megan said...

I definitely agree to be yourself as a writer. As a teenage writer, I still do some experimenting with different genres and voices if I'm in the mood. However, I'm not going to FORCE myself to sound more literary, experimental, fill in the blank.

Also, my captcha was just latin. An actual word! Ha ha, I just had to share.

Emily Marshall said...

Megan, good points!!! It's really good to experiment with voice, especially when starting out and you aren't sure of your voice or if you are like me and constantly wondering if some other genre/style might be your "true" voice. But it's never good to force something that's just not going to happen.

Thanks for the comment. Good luck with your books!

Lisa Schroeder said...

Great post, and great reminders. I think it is important that writers try different things. We don't necessarily know what we're good at until we experiment a little. But once we realize our strengths, it's important to write to those.

Although I think we can also work on our weaknesses too, because some areas if we're not good now, we can improve so we *are* good somewhere down the road.

Emily Marshall said...

Completely agree Lisa. I just think sometimes everyone is so concerned about improving their weaknesses, they forget about their strengths. And sometimes you have to guard those as best you can, so you won't loose them :)