Writing Guidelines…What you do with what you learn

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One of the wisest things a writer can do to better their craft and navigate the path to their desired literary success is to realize that they, in fact, don’t know everything but have room to learn just about anything.

One of the best things we can do to better gain wisdom is to learn from those who have gained the success that mirrors or resembles that which we are aiming for.

A few years back my eldest sister created a creative writing workshop book while she was on sabbatical from teaching at the University level. I had the privilege of being her guinea pig for the project, using the workbook from start to finish.

Out of the many writing exercises that she cleverly produced, the one that I enjoyed and affected me the most had to do with gleaning wisdom from the authors that I most read and/or admired.

I was tasked with:

  • Making a list of 4 of my favorite authors
  • Find a quote of theirs that spoke about their writing process (and from there)
  • Come up with 4 guidelines that I could follow to help me in my creative process

The 4 authors that I chose (in no particular order of popularity) were: Garth Nix, Frank Peretti, Tamora Peirce, and of course, Octavia E. Butler. Below are their quotes and following are the guidelines that I created from what each author had to say.

1. Octavia E. Butler:

    Genre: Sci/Fi

(This quote is in regard to a bad sci-fi movie she had seen when she was twelve.)

“Geez, I can write a better story than that.” So I got busy writing what I thought of as Science Fiction.””

*What a learned from her statement is that sometimes noticing a lack in the craft of others can lead you to find the strength within your own.

2. Garth Nix:

Genre: Young Adult Sci/Fi

I am the audience and I try and write a book that I would like now as a mature adult and that I would have enjoyed at thirteen or fourteen and upwards.”

*What I learned from Garth Nix is in order to write a convincing piece, I have to write it selfishly, as unto myself. But I have to write in a way that others can latch on to it as well.

3.Frank Peretti: (I have two quotes for him actually, but only one birthed a guideline.)

Genre: Horror/Christian/ Supernatural Fiction/ Young Adult

The best way to convey a spiritual truth is by telling a story because stories work.”

And

Don’t try to find truth by looking within yourself; you’re the one who’s confused.”

(The last quote just needed to be shared 😉 )

*What I learned from Frank Perretti (who holds the trophy for being the first author to get me to read a book all the way through for leisure. The book was the Oath. LOVED IT! It starts off with a knife, and blood and a woman running through the woods…curious aren’t you;) ) is that the truth is people like or are more comfortable by the imaginary. They become characters and make the story personal. They live the prose out in their minds as if they were their own memories, and can often glean strength to face their reality.

4. Tamora Peirce.

Genre: Fantasy/ Young Adult

(About getting ideas for her books…)

Some, I stumble across watching in nature programs…watching my mother and sister produce blankets from balls of yarn and crochet hooks. I thought of it as a kind of magic and wondered what all could be done with thread and magic.”

*What I learned is that everyday life is more than enough inspiration. The Lord God Yeshua Jesus gave us all we need to make masterpieces of our own.

Bonus: Victoria Osteen

Let peace be your umpire.”

So above are the things that I have learned. Below are my guidelines based off of the quotes I’ve gleaned from. You will notice that they are not exact to the quotes or what I have learned from the quotes. They are more the children born out of the marriage of the two:

MY WRITING GUIDELINES:

  • There is always room for your work if it is well thought out and concise.
  • Write what pleases you, but what others can connect to as well.
  • Stories are necessary for telling truths. Tell the truth.
  • You have all you need for you masterpiece so make it happen.
  • With everything I do, do it with peace as my ultimate guage and guide.

For me, these guidelines are freeing and very encouraging, like Chopsticks.

NOW YOU GIVE THIS A TRY:

  1. Take some time, look up some quotes from your favorite authors.
  2. Jot down what you glean from it  upon your first read (or after ruminating over it.)
  3. Come up with some guidelines of your own based off of the quotes you have read and what you have learned.
  4. Find an inspirational quote from a non-writer that inspires you.
  5. Put them into practice and then let me know how they worked for you.

Want to see my guidelines in action? Click and follow my Author Page at www.candicecoates.wordpress.com

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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10 thoughts on “Writing Guidelines…What you do with what you learn

  1. Reblogged this on I came for the soup… and commented:

    This is an older post but as I thought about this weeks writing exercise I reasoned that part of being good at your craft is in understanding what you are aiming for. This post is about coming up with a set of simple writing guidelines to help keep you, the writer, on track. My sister Crystal Clark created this exercise and now I am sharing it (again) with you all. Enjoy and please do share what you discover!
    Cheers!

    1. I’m glad you shared this post again. I’ve gotten a little frustrated with one of my stories lately and I needed to hear this. Perfect quotes, thank you for sharing! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I have to, again, give all the credit for this exercise to my eldest sister. She wrote a creative writing journal a few years back and this was one of the assignments. It stuck with me for obvious reasons and I had to share it 😀

    1. Excellent! Do whatever works and helps you with your process. Doing this when I did helped me to have a greater peace about my work, which is something we creative types often struggle with. Reminding myself that I am the first audience really made me loosen up and stay on a more authentic path. If I am not happy with what I am doing then I can’t expect my readers to be either.

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