Listen To Your Own Instincts

As a new writer and a firm believer  in self-help books, if I don’t know something,  I have no compunction in asking.  A natural born student, I love to learn new things. A quick read and a fast learner, I threw myself into learning any new craft.  I began reading how-to-books, subscribing to writer’s magazines, writing blogs, and  joined a couple of writer’s groups.

All of  which have been helpful, and inspiring. I’ve learned the do’s and don’ts and basic rules of writing. It is an ongoing process; however, common themes are emerging and repeated no matter the venue. Less is more. Show, don’t  tell. Write what you know is argued on both sides of the fence.

Personally, I disagree with that philosophy. Our imaginations take us many places, doubtful we’ve been to all of them, and commas are the bane of my existence. Lately, the drum beat has been adverbs and adjectives – use them sparingly. They peg you as a new writer or weakens your work. Mark Twain once said, “Adverbs are the tool of the lazy writer.” He also said, “When you catch an adjective, kill it.”

I’m not sure I agree. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve read the experts. I hear them. I’m listening. I understand  punctuation is important. But, here’s the thing. You can get lost in the minutia of  do’s and don’ts, or get hung up on technicalities of writing and stop writing. You lose focus, desire, and your inspiration to write. Doubt creeps in and the many stories you had swirling around in your head are lost among the jumble of critiques, red ink and editing.

I want to write. Talk to me about plot, about  tension,  character development and structure, also. I’m learning. I’ll edit, get better. Improve and when the time comes, hire me an editor if I need to. Just let me tell my story. Get it down on paper before I lose the magic.

I may be new, but my husband saying, “Honey, you look beautiful in your new, red dress,”  has more impact  than, “Nice dress.”

So, while my writing may not be perfect, and there may more adjectives, adverbs and commas than the experts prefer, it’s a process. I’m learning. I’m listening. Sometimes it’s me I listen to. Good Thing J.K. Rowling did.

“Careful not to walk through anyone,” said Ron nervously, and they set off around the edge of the dance floor. They passed a group of gloomy nuns, a ragged man wearing chains, and the Fat Friar, a cheerful Hufflepuff ghost, who was talking to a knight with an arrow sticking out of his forehead.

Harry wasn’t surprised to see that the Bloody Baron, a gaunt, staring Slytherin ghost covered in silver bloodstains, was being given a wide berth by the other ghosts.

“Oh, no,” said Hermione, stopping abruptly. “Turn back, turn back, I don’t want to talk to Moaning Myrtle -”
“Who?” said Harry as they backtracked quickly.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – by J. K. Rowling

7 thoughts on “Listen To Your Own Instincts

  1. Pingback: Rules of Fiction Writing | Susan Sheehey

    • Susan,
      Thanks for the support. As a new writer, I appreciate a good critique and I am surrounded by a great group of writer friends. That said, I think it is important to get the story down, editing will come later, no doubt even to the best writer. So, I’m learning to not sweat all the rules quite so much. Thanks again.


  2. Thanks Lee. When I began this journey I have to admit I thought I knew more than I did about writing. I had no idea. The resources I've used to date have taught me a great deal and I'm continuing to learn. Most effective have been my writing groups. They were a god-send. However, as I progress I understand I have to listen to my instincts or the voice in my writing will be lost. Thanks for stopping by.


  3. I'm also here from LinkedIn.I am so in agreement with what you've said here. I don't know who's responsible for a lot of these "rules" and what makes them the know all to end all. It's a matter of preference in many cases. Personally my rule of thumb is to write naturally. In other words, if it doesn't sound awkward and sounds good when I read it aloud then I'm pretty much okay with it. The way I see it, writing is a conversation with a reader unless you're trying to lecture them as some sort of authority–okay in nonfiction and scholastic writing perhaps, but if I'm reading fiction for fun I don't want and author talking down to me or speaking in a smug condescending tone.I encourage you to run with your writing style so I don't have to be alone.Lee An A to Z Co-Host Tossing It OutTwitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallengePlease vote for your favorite A to Z Video


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