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How to Get Out of Your Own Way: The Secret to Becoming a Successful Writer

30 January 2012

From author and former editor Anne R. Allen Ruth Harris:

You know what I’m talking about. I know you do. Most of us recognize it as The Enemy Within, the devil with a thousand faces, the ugly, waxy build up of negative forces that stand between you and Writing The Book/Finishing The Book/Editing & Polishing The Book.

Science still hasn’t come up with a cure for the common cold but, as an editor, I’ve worked with lots of writers over the years and I’ve learned that writers, crafty creatures that we are, struggle with the lit version of the common cold.

. . . .

Are you a perfectionist?

Do you suffer the misery of unfinished drafts, half completed novels, computer files so ancient only Methuselah remembers the program that created them? Have you settled into an endless rut of rewriting, revising and second guessing yourself? You’re working hard but getting nowhere—and not fast?

Then, please, stop! Ask yourself what are you afraid of: failure? Or is it success? And what’s the worse thing that can happen if you upload a less-than-”perfect” book? Heavens gonna fall? Earth stop in its orbit?

. . . .

Do more of what comes easily and work on your strengths.

Snappy dialogue? Scorching sex? Elegant descriptions?

Whatever you like to write will likely be a key to developing a style that is uniquely yours.

Whether your style is Tilda Swinton or Lady Gaga, George Clooney or Judd Apatow, work it. Robert M. Parker did. Elmore Leonard did. Style counts, style matters, style lasts.

Raymond Chandler nailed it: “Style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time.”

Bottom line: Style is you being you on purpose so embrace it.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog


Fiction Fundamentals, Writing Advice

7 Comments to “How to Get Out of Your Own Way: The Secret to Becoming a Successful Writer”

  1. “Style is you being you on purpose.”

    I love that!

  2. Good secret, need more secrets.


  3. PG, thanks so much for including us here. But I must clarify: This post was written by RUTH HARRIS, my blog partner: NYT bestselling author and former Big 6 editor. She joined the blog last summer. The official name of the blog is now Anne R. Allen’s Blog…with Ruth Harris. She’s a gem. Full of no-nonsense wisdom like this.

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