In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

In My Words: Looking for Signs Along the Writing Road

When I think of the writing life, I think of a road. One complete with curves. Speed limits. Bumps. Unexpected detours. And, as my writing friend author Jody Hedlund pointed out in her blog post, the occasional traffic jam.
I had a plan--a road map, if you will -- when I set my sights on pursuing writing. Let me rephrase that: I wasn't pursuing writing, I was pursuing publication.
I learned quickly that publication was beyond my control. Pursuing writing -- bettering my skills -- now that was my responsibility, and mine alone. I had to see the writing road as an open road -- not as a series of impassable obstacles.

A possible road sign reminder?  

 No parking. Why? Success requires forward motion, not sitting for so long that my writing attempts are non-existent. Do I want to waste so much time that I could be designated an abandoned vehicle in a tow-away zone? (Okay, work with me here. It's a rough analogy, but you see my point, right?)






There's another lesson I've learned along the writing road: You have to know the difference between learning technique from a more skilled writer and believing the (false) idea that there's only one right way to do things.

A possible road sign reminder?

Here's two: This Way or One Way. "This Way" is what a mentor says when she shows me how to dig deeper into my character. A skilled teacher shows you the "how" and then lets you adapt it to your voice. Consider the words "One Way." How limiting. Only. One. Way. No room for voice. No room for flare. No room for your personal interpretation of how to craft dialogue or develop characters.



In Your Words: What signs have you seen along the writing road? If you had the chance, what sign would you post for other writers? 





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15 Comments:

At 3:59 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

I'm liking your theme this week, Beth, with the road signs and all. :) It's late, but the first sign that came to mind for me was, "Yield." I am finding it invaluable to "yield" my writing, my baby to the eyes of those more experienced than I for their suggestions. I want to be teachable, because I have so much to learn in writing craft.
Thanks for making me think!

 
At 7:28 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Yield.
Great sign to post, Jeanne. All writers have to see that sign along the writing road, and learn to heed it!

 
At 7:33 AM, Blogger Wendy Paine Miller said...

Lately I keep seeing a Wait for Bridge sign.

~ Wendy

 
At 7:38 AM, Blogger Edie Melson said...

This is a great post for me, the sign I wish I'd paid attention to earlier in my career was, SLOW, CURVE AHEAD. I had (and I think most of us have) a big learning curve when I started out and I was in way too much of a hurry. It cost me a lot of time when I had to go back and hone my skills to reach my goals.

 
At 7:55 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Ah, Wendy, we could delve into that "Wait for Bridge" sign ...
And, yes, Edie, there is a learning curve. If you take it too fast, you're going to spin out!

 
At 9:23 AM, Blogger Felicia said...

I'm thinking right now, I've seen the DETOUR sign. God has shown me a better way to accomplish His plan for my writing - which may or may not ever include publication, but does include reaching a specific audience with a specific message. Sometimes you have to get off of the Interstate and enjoy a two-lane country road...

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Felicia,
I love your attitude--and your insight. Detours can often be interpreted as the "why am I going this way?" route. But they often get us around the wrong route. The messes. The "you don't want to be here" roads.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Donna said...

GREAT POST! "Do Not Pass" seems to fit my writing season right now. God is opening up amazing doors but I can't rush it and get ahead of Him. I want to follow Him - not pass Him for my own purposes.

 
At 12:20 PM, Blogger Reba J. Hoffman said...

"Slippery When Wet!" Yep, that's my sign 'cause I often find myself slip-slidin' away. Just when I think I've got a firm hold, I lose my grip!
Awesome post!

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Great insight, Donna--you can't rush ahead of God's plans, even when you're peering around the cars ahead of you, wishing you could jump over the yellow line and zip past them!
And, Reba, I get the whole "what happened to my grip on writing reality?" concept too.

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Great insight, Donna--you can't rush ahead of God's plans, even when you're peering around the cars ahead of you, wishing you could jump over the yellow line and zip past them!
And, Reba, I get the whole "what happened to my grip on writing reality?" concept too.

 
At 2:10 PM, Blogger Jody Hedlund said...

Love how you took the road trip analogy and developed it even more, Beth!! Great insights! Both of your observations are very true. If we hope to get anywhere, we have to keep the car in forward movement, even a little bit! And while there are "rules" there really is no ONE right way!

Thanks for linking to my post! :-)

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Great advice. I had to tweet about this. :) I hope my car is always moving forward.

 
At 4:31 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Jody, thanks for getting my thoughts rolling ... and Kathi, thanks for tweeting the blog post!

 
At 12:18 PM, Blogger Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Such a great point: to pursue writing more than publication. There's so much I can do with that!

~Debbie

 

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