Doing It The Write Way

October 30th, 2006 · 1 Comment
by Kassia Krozser

Today’s rant is courtesy of the husband. He casually mentioned that he was reading Copybloggera great post about ending your articles — and he noted something irritating in the comments section: a writing coach insisting that there was only one good way to brainstorm: hers.

As he discussed writing with the ending in mind, Copyblogger noted that some people might benefit from a quick outline. Then came the comment, one we cannot resist quoting:

NO! Outlines are death for writers.

Uh, this is not true. We know a lot of writers who use outlines, and, to the best of our knowledge, they remain alive and productive. Our hapless commenter says that mindmapping is the only way to go. The. Only. Way. To. Go.

Yeah. That’s the ticket. Trade one rule for another. The truth of the matter is that all writers are built differently. Some take to mindmapping (we, alas, do only sometimes). Some fly by the seat of the their pants and, hopefully, fix it in the mix (we do this one, too). Some are strict outliners (again, us sometimes). Others use a blend of techniques, choosing the right tool for the project (this is our preferred technique).

Anytime someone tells you the “rules” of writing, run for the hills. Rules are often made up by people who have found success doing things one way, and remain closed to the possibility that other people might achieve similar success in a different way. Thus, they establish rules and swear those rules are the only path to glory. Tools, not rules, we like to say. It’s like our yoga teacher used to say, “Take what you can use and throw the rest away.”

It’s good advice when you’re trying to stand on one leg, twisted sideways, one arm raised to the sky, and the other reaching toward the front of the room while trying to focus really hard on pushing energy out through your raised heel…and it’s good advice when you’re writing. Nothing more frustrating than trying to mindmap when your instincts tell you to just go ahead and outline the damn thing. Forcing your brain into a method that feels counter-intuitive almost always ends in frustration.

Endings are important — we often don’t consider them enough in our own work — but there’s no need to force rules upon other writers. We have enough anxiety as it is.

File Under: Tools and Craft

1 response so far ↓

  • Bill Peschel // Oct 30, 2006 at 3:53 pm

    Good thing she never tried this opinion out on Nabokov. He meticulously plotted his novels, and thought the idea of “I just let the characters do what they want” kind of writing a load of wash. Characters were meant to do his bidding, not the other way around.