There’s a saying in the autism community, “When you’ve met a child with autism, you’ve met A child with autism.” Think snowflakes – no two are alike. Same with autism, as teachers, therapists, doctors and even parents (like yours truly) learn early on in the “game.” My three girls have the same diagnosis, yet they are each very different in terms of strengths, deficits and abilities. The rules, teaching methods, carrots and sticks, likes, dislikes are as different as night and day for Mia, Gianna and Bella. Gianna speaks well (I caught myself telling her to “be quiet” and had to smile as a wish came true) Bella has just two or three usable words. Mia loves quiet alone time, Gianna is my social butterfly.
I tell you this not so you can pass Autism 101 (pop quiz tomorrow!) but to equate it to writing advice. What works for me as a writer might be completely wrong for you. I like to write with headphones blaring my favorite music for fiction. I need quiet for non-fiction. Coffee in the general vicinity is a must. No eating. I plow through a first draft without stopping. You might prefer to tweak and self-edit as you go. So how on earth can I give you advice? Plus, let’s face it, I’m a debut author, not Charlaine Harris. (New Sookie Stackhouse book came out last week!)
My only advice would be “write about what you know and love and feel passionate about” to make the very difficult process of creating a publishable manuscript a whole lot more pleasant. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t branch way out of your comfort or knowledge zone. You must. But you should be in love with your topic, even as you’re learning it. Got a cop with gun on his hip? Learn about the guns cops carry and make sure you choose the right brand. Small commercial airplane sputtering to the ground in a crash landing? Better get your aeronautical facts straight! I think this gives your writing an authenticity that a reader will smell from a mile away – and it will smell really good. Without passion for the subject, I think there’s a wall – or a disconnect – that the reader will also pick up – and make the dog poop on the shoe face. (Have you been to hear me speak? I talk about the dog poop on the shoe face a lot.)
9 Replies to “Deb Kim on Writing Advice”
Jodi Picoult once said, “I don’t write what I know, I write what I’m willing to research.” I really took that to heart – you’re right, it’s a great way to work ourselves out of our comfort zones so we can write something *informed* by what we know, rather than *limited to* what we know.
Love the “be quiet” story – is that under ‘be careful what you wish for’? 🙂
You are so right. Every writer has a different approach, and the key to individual success, IMO, is to figure out what works for you. That, oddly, is easier said than done. Might take a while, and some experimentation, but once you manage it, putting those words on the page gets so much easier.
My non-fic writing style is freeformvomitonthepage. When I start fiddling with it, it loses emotion, heart and punch. I haven’t worked out my fiction style as well yet and I struggle with it more. It’s much more difficult for me which is why I am WAY behind!
Having recently learned about Laura Dave’s process, I love that she writes to be surprised!
Kim, your passion shows through in your writing! LOVE IT!!!
Great point about advice not being one-size-fits-all. I give a lot of writing advice and tips on my blog, and every time I do it, I find myself wanting to clarify, “this may not be for you!”
I agree that passion is a major ingredient in successful writing (especially in MAKING WAVES, I have no doubt!). So much of accomplishing what we want just involves the tenacity to keep writing, keep editing, keep pushing… and that’s a lot easier and more fun to do when we’re writing about something that excites us.
Kim, love the snowflake analogy. And, I would just love to meet your beautiful girls someday. xo
Sarah, we’re a Brady Bunch! 3 girls, 3 boys. 🙂
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