on discovering your own writing style

May 16, 2020

I've really come to appreciate how katie emmons says, i don't believe in writing advice.


I feel like a wonderful thing about the writing community on the blogosphere is HOW MUCH STUFF ONE CAN LEARN FROM OTHERS. but, it's also a bit of a downside. I, for one, have realized that I've become almost overdosed with writing advice.

it's not that the advice is bad or useless in any way but that I JUST CAN'T HANDLE IT ALL IN MY SMOL BRAIN. which leads to the first thing I want to say about finding ones own writing style ...

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item # 1 there's such a thing as too much advice

or, more specifically, there's such a thing as trying to digest and follow too much advice. it would be awfully nice if we were all able to sift through the advice we receive and discard everything we don't need and just hold onto what matters, but ... how many of you also find yourselves being like, 

"yo, I need to HANG ON TO allllll the advice JUST IN CASE I need it later!!"

which in turn just clogs your brain with too much information.

^^ this is me, all the time. about everything. 

trying to follow all the advice you find online about writing - or even, all the advice your friends share - can be overwhelming. especially because 

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item # 2 you cannot follow all the advice at once 

there's a time and place for each bit of wisdom we receive. you don't need editing advice when you're plotting ... and yet for some reason you're already watching a youtube video about editing your book and allowing all that information about WHAT SORTS OF ERRORS TO LOOK OUT FOR to influence how you write your draft. 

stop it.

it's really subtle. there's so much "writing advice" that is acutally "editing advice" because it's teaching you how to polish and perfect parts of your story (for example, characters) and you really shouldn't allow this to put so much pressure on how you write your first draft. 

but it goes deeper than that. you may not be able to follow all the advice at once because you just aren't there yet. for exapmle, when I was a young writer, I heard this a lot - write for yourself as if no one will ever read the story. which is beautiful advice.

but I couldn't follow it because ... I was a smol writer who couldn't part with the imagination of others reading my work. and being published. and being famous. and all those ... normal but ... premature dreams.

I was, basically, incapable of following that advice because I hadn't yet reached the point of understanding that it's totally fine if no one reads your work and it's really not that important. 

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item # 3 take a break from taking advice

when your mind is full of other people's writing processes, how can you discover your own? not that knowing their methods isn't useful - it can be! I've learned a ton from seeing how others write.

but their process isn't yours, and it can be easy to get others' processes and your own mixed and muddles when you don't even know what yours is yet.

think about this for a moment - if no one were to tell you how to write your book, how would you do it?

you may not know, because that scenario of "no one telling you how to do it" is so far and so foreign. but think - if you had no time limits, and pressure, and no need to finish your book fast - how would you go about writing it?

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item # 4 experiment. a lot.

when someone talks about their process, take inspiration. don't try to copy exactly. but if something they say seems to resonate with you - try it. or try some version of it. the best way to learn anything is BY DOING IT. and that goes for writing.

try to treat your writing as an experiment, if you're new to it. or even intermediate. (and maybe even expert.) it's supposed to be a fun learning experience. so HAVE FUN and LEARN. try different methods of plotting, and planning. try writing your book chronologicallly, or backwards. write it in three days. or write it in one year. write the end first. write it in the order that things come to you. record it on audio. write fast. write slow. 

TRY IT and see what works for you.

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item # 5 try to develop the mindset of taking useful advice, not all advice

as I was saying, we cannot use it all at once, so why try to? this doesn't mean that you shouldn't read all those blog posts that tell you how to do things, but that you should approach them with a more open mind. one that recognizes that all the advice you read there might not be for you at this time.

just as an example, I'm a huge huge fan of Abbie's youtube channel. it's absolutely incredible and all her videos are amazing. HOWEVER. she posts a lot of videos about a lot of different writing topics. I cannot, in any way possible, handle all the information she provides at one go. I cannot even handle it at the rate that she posts - one video per week. I cannot write as fast as she can provide information - AND IT'S TOTALLY FINE. it doesn't make her advice less important or her channel less useful or me less of a writer. I just add a bookmark to her channel so that someday when I need advice on a certain topic, I can come back and look for it. 

it's okay not to read every post. it's okay not to watch every video. it's okay not to take all the advice. look for the advice that you need. bookmark the rest for later.


so this post wasn't really meant to be an advice filled post, but more of a spill of thoughts that I've recently had. I've been learning more and more about myself as a writer lately and thought I'd share. here are a few fun facts about me:

// I cannot really plot at will. meaning, I can't sit down with a paper and pencil and PLOT THE THING OUT.
// I really like visualizing my book as a movie in my head. SLOWLY. with every shot, every camera angle, every character's facial expression, every background scene in exact time as it would appear on a screen.
// to do this I need to sit still, have my eyes shut, go deep deep into my mind, and imagine. 
// and I hate sitting still with eyes shut in the middle of the day ... so.
// I cannot write a book without doing any plotting. it gets stuck.
// I cannot write a book before the idea has "matured". if I try, it dies.
// my best ideas stand the test of time. if I'm still thinking about the idea I had two years ago, chances are it's a good idea.
// not all ideas need to be books. flash fiction is good as well.
// I prefer editing to first drafts.
// with every book I try to write, I get better. and better. and better.

in other words, enjoy the process. take time to discover who you are as a writer. don't rush it. you have as much time as you need to do what you were meant to do.

keep writing, lovelies <3
xx lisa, who is currently having too much fun in a writing contest called Crazy Writing Week and this post has hopefully counted for about 800 words yayyyyyyy 




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20 comments

  1. I did that too myself too. Read too much writing advise than got overdosed with all that advise.

    astorydetective.blogspot.com

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  2. THIS POST

    YES YES YES

    Writing advice can sometimes be so helpful....but other times it just doesn't work and leaves you wondering if you're a failure.

    Not everyone writes/plots/edits the same way, and that's such a beautiful thing, imo.

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    1. AAHH I'm glad you agree!! I mean, the advice is great ... I just can't handle it all ??

      and you're right IT'S A BEAUTIFUL THING.

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  3. I totally love this post and the points you made! I was very active in the online writing community when I was a young teenager, and I went through serious writing burn out from it as I was trying to adapt to all the advice I was getting. Now I keep my writing to myself and try to take every piece of advice with an open mind so I can develop into the writer that I am, not a version of someone else's writing.
    Great post!

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH HANNAH! it's so good to get your perspective too - I relate to how you feel. there's peer pressure whether we realize it or not XD and YES to taking advice with an OPEN MIND!! we're all unique and should treat our writing processes as such :))

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  4. This is great, Lisa! Anti-advice advice post! ;) You're so right though, we can't take every piece of advice into our writing, we need to be open but objective and listen to the story in our own hands.

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    1. ahh YES you put that so well!! I totally agree <33

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  5. AMEN, SISTER. So much truth in this post!!!

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  6. LISA I'M SO SAD I JUST REALIZED ALL YOUR POSTS HAVE BEEN GOING INTO MY SPAM INBOX SO BRB I'M GONNA GO CATCH UP ON LIKE EVERYTHING FROM MAY NOW.

    This is such a great post! I definitely agree with a lot of what you've said. Sifting through the endless onslaught of advice and picking out the gold nuggets is really difficult. I think it's important to give the writing advice we hear fair consideration, but if it doesn't work for you as a writer (ex. it's all about the virtues of a certain story structure, but you know in your heart you're a pantser) or even a particular story you're on, that's okay. How I process all the advice is through my Pinterest board--sticking a video or article that I find useful on that board is kind of the mental equivalent of me putting the advice in a drawer and shutting it for now. The advice is put away in a safe place and not running loose in my head, but whenever I run into a specific problem, I have a database of sorts I can go do a search in to find the exact content I need. That's what works for me, at least.

    I also watch Abbie's YouTube channel, and even if I don't find myself taking much of her advice, I think it's still really good for me to just digest another author's storytelling philosophies. Figuring out what my approach to storytelling definitely doesn't entail still helps develop it. But on the whole, all writers are different and unique, and to assume that everyone must follow your writing advice or you must follow everyone's writing advice is an unfortunate and destructive mentality.

    - Eleanor

    P.S. EDITING FTW YES YES YES

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    1. EEK HELLO I'm so sorry for that :'( but also SO HONORED you binge read the older posts ack :'))

      that's so marvelous that you know what works best for you!! Pinterest can be so useful! I agree that storing advice for later (whether on Pinterest or anywhere else) can be really really useful!! I must copy you and take up this practice!!

      also this!! learning from each other is still so important even if we don't always do the same things *claps* you said things so eloquently wowow

      p.s. AAHHH ANOTHER EDITING QUEEN YASSS

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  7. I'm so late but YES I LOVE THIS POST SO MUCH. I definitely agree about having too much advice - I remember being really intimidated when I first started "researching" writing and finding all sorts of information. Awesome post!!

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    1. I'm so late replying but thank you thank you <3 we have all gone through something similar at some point hehe I'm glad you agree :))

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  8. “it's okay not to read every post. it's okay not to watch every video.” <<< THIS. WE can spend so much time how to be creative instead of actually doing it. Everyone must grow into their own, whatever it is they do. Sure, we might similar methods, but we are still creatively and uniquely different.

    Fantastic post, Lisa.
    cheers.
    k.

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    1. thank you Keira!! you expressed it so well!! I wholeheartedly agree that doing is the best way to learn :))

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  9. I like to visualize my books too. I've never been able to plot.

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    1. #relates ahhh the processes of writing ... maybe it's an artist thing, to visualize?? idk :)

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