Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Writing Wisdom

(Chatsworth, England)

I am a huge fan of Brenda Ueland's book, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit. It was written in 1938, yet the wisdom is timeless. I've frequently turned to this book whenever I needed a lift in my writing spirit. It never fails to inspire me. And I need a good dose of inspiration right about now. Life's burdens have intruded upon my zest for editing my novel and I need to re-focus on the story.

One of Ueland's points is to have "microscopic truthfulness." Here is what she says:

"Describe something just as it is. Do not worry if it is angular or clumsy or how it comes out. Just look at something and put down what you see. Remember William Blake who said, 'Improvement makes straight, straight roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.'"

I think this goes along the lines of, "To thine own self be true." I have tried writing sweeping, grand, lofty sentences, but they all fall flat. I am not that kind of writer. I have to stay true to my writing self. This does not mean that I can't explore and branch out of my comfort zone and try new things. But if I discover that those methods do not work, I should not force them upon myself simply because I "think" I need to write that way.

I suppose you could boil this down to one thing - being true to yourself as a writer is the way to find your voice.

Agree or disagree?


  1. I so agree. I'm still discovering mine, though. Love the Blake quote.

  2. Apropos - I admire other writings and start to make comparisons and then have to remind myself to be true to my voice. Yet the challenges of trying to get out of the box is sometimes good exercise! I'm feeling just that way today, trying to find out what it is I have to say in a post!

  3. YES! I definitely agree! As much as I love JK Rowlings discriptive abilities, I could never ever write like her--so I enjoy instead. I find my true voice is inside a teen or kids head! LOL! Go figure.. it's all around me, but it works! Happy St Patty's Day! And good luck with your writing. Jenni

  4. Totally agree. Glad for the breakthrough. Write on!

  5. I like this and feel better even more. A few days ago I read an article about finding your voice--the clearest I've read ever. And I have decided I too am not a lofty writer or descriptive--I am down to earth and and write tightly. So maybe you've found your voice too!

  6. I agree totally. I admire a lot of writing that I can't pull off myself...and when I tried, the writing fell flat or worse, was pretentious. It always felt false.

    Love the term "microscopic truthfulness."

  7. Absolutely agree! Well said.

  8. Agree! But I also like your willingness to try new things, techniques, what have you, to see if it works. Almost as a way to put an occasional spin on our own voice.

  9. I'm such an idiot. I was about to post 'that pic looks like the countryside in England' and I took another look and it was. Doh! Love your blog. So gorgeous looking. If you ever want to pop across to mine, you'll be made most welcome.



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