Years ago a good friend Liz gave me some writing advice. It’s among the best I’ve received, and I’d like to share it with you. At the time I was writing creative non-fiction and wanted to get better. Here’s what Liz told me.
- No one wants to read about you.
- They want to read about themselves.
- Write about you – all writers do. But like a novelist, boil it down to the essences. Write like it’s fiction – find the story and find what you are trying to say in the story. Not the moral lesson, that’s a bore for everyone. But the essence of the story. What’s it really about? Fear, worry, the fact you don’t feel like a grownup and you’re raising two kids. Find that essence and keep all the parts of the story that are about that, throw in a few extra to amuse, toss out the rest and remember no one really wants to read about you.
- Keep it very organized. It’s more like a college paper than you think it is – topic sentences and supporting paragraphs still apply, just creatively. Consider practicing with some outlines. Take your previous posts and outline them. See what that looks like. Then sit down with an idea for a piece and outline it before you write. Then try writing off the outline and see what you come up with.
- This stuff takes forever. Nobody does it naturally.
- Last, do it because you love it. Don’t worry about whoeverall else is great. Just don’t even bother with that. Do it because you love it, work at it because it pleases you to watch yourself get better and better.