Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You Are What You Write


                So you want to write, but what should you write about?  According to Harold Underdown’s book, Publishing Children’s Books, ( ) he suggests exploring what genres you like to read.  “Rule one is to write what you want to write, not what you think you should write,” he says.  This is pretty good advice.  But what if you have very eclectic reading tastes?  You’d just as easily read a murder mystery as a whimsical rhyming picture book?  How do you focus your writing energy?
            You could read Regina Brooks guide entitled Writing Great Books for Young Adults ( ) .  She believes the universe gives us stories, and it is our job as writers to accept these gifts to create our own masterpiece.  “Once your ear is attuned, and if you keep an open mind, story ideas will rush to you.”  Doesn’t this sound too good to be true?  However, I have been in group conversations, listening to stories and thinking, ‘that would make a great character’ or ‘what an interesting plot line that could be.’  She also has several lovely writing exercises to keep you writing, (but I didn’t find them useful.)
            I like to revert to the lyrics of a Beck song and, what I think, is the single most important piece of advice I have been giving students for 15 years:  “You can’t write if you can’t relate.”  Bottom line, if it doesn’t mean anything to you, you will have a heck of a time trying to force it into a story or poem or article.  It just doesn’t work.
            So you want to write?  Then do it.  Make a list of things of interest, people of importance to you, places you want to (or have) visited and/or problems you want solved.  You have the ability to write about anything at all as long as it matters to you.  This writing from the heart - this is true writing.  

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