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The "How-Tos" of Writing? FUGETTABOUTIT!

Updated on October 27, 2011

Just how many are there?

I'd be willing to wager that there are just about as many blogs on writing as there are on the state of the world. Maybe more. One thing is certain: there is no lack on the topic. Everybody wants to tell you the best way to blog, write, publish, get seen, get known, etc., etc., ad nauseam. So, if you're here to get those kinds of tips, you're out of luck. I'm not going to add to that pile. Nor am I in any way attempting to dis those who do. Whatever floats your boat.

I am, however, going to offer up some observations on the many articles I've read myself. Heck, I've even written a few in the past. I don't regret having written them, but even now, when I go back and read them, the first thing that pops into my head is: "Who the hell are YOU telling somebody how to hone their craft? Arrogant little #@#!."

The truth (as I see it) is that nobody can tell you "how to" write. Because writing is a pretty personal thing. Just like dancing. Or painting. Or making music. Personal. Inside stuff. Not the kind of thing(s) anybody else can really teach you, except for maybe the basics. The basics in writing would be stuff like good grammar, correct spelling, thought flow, etc. The kind of stuff you might have learned in that first year Creative Writing class you took in high school. If you happened to skip that class, might be well served if you got a clue on that kind of thing. Or not.

The thing is, basics aside, all the "how-tos" in the world are not going to turn you into a best selling author unless you already have "the stuff". That is to say, that burning creative need to put it down on paper. Or, in this case, on a computer screen. Either way, if you don't have that fire going on, it's not likely that you're going to hit the New York Times Bestseller list anytime in the near future.

But I digress.

Who's to say?

One of the first things I read when I started this whole blogging thing (a million years ago?!) was that using pictures would drastically improve readership. Apparently, people are more fond of blogs with pictures, kinda like how kids' books with brightly colored pages are more interesting to them. I followed this "advice" for a very long time. I've even done little experiments. Like having two different blogs on two different host sites, using the same exact copy on both but putting pictures on only one. Know what happened?

Turns out the pictures didn't do a thing to increase readership. In fact, the blog on which there were no pictures actually got more reads than the one without. Go figure. At first, I thought maybe it was the popularity of the host site. So I switched them up. Same result. The pictures did not affect readership. So is this a viable tip? Maybe. I suppose it depends on the topics you write about. Maybe if I were writing a blog on cooking, the pictures would make a huge difference. But that's not my cup of tea, so apparently it isn't something I need to fuss with.

On the other hand, you may notice that most of the postings I submit on this site do have pictures. Mostly because I think it's fun. But I honestly don't believe that were I to omit a photo in this arena that it would affect who or how many read the post. Then again, I lean toward confident when it comes to this sort of thing. Call me arrogant, but I just don't think people are going to not read if there's no picture. I'm relying on my craft, not some photo to entice. If you want to see pictures, go git yerself some children's books. They have tons of pictures.

Next comes the whole research thing. Lots of folks will tell you that you need to research in order to write a good piece. I've done that too. And if it happens to be something I'm really interested in and don't know much about, I'd say it's worth the time. But, if it happens that I already have a good foundation on the topic, I skip the research altogether. Because I really do believe that the whole point of writing is to come up with stuff that nobody else has said. I'm pretty sure every topic has been covered at least a few hundred (if not thousand) times. So why does the world need "one more"? Well, my darling writer-in-the-making, there may be a gazillion blogs, articles, books, movies, etc., on any given topic you're writing about but they have not been written by YOU. Which is precisely the point.

Your voice is uniquely yours. Your take on things. Your perspectives. The way that you see and then write about any given topic is what will stand out...if it's well-written. If not, then you can add yours to the gazillion others that may or may not be read by the gazillion billions out there surfing the web. See what I'm getting at here?

The "who" is YOU. And you get to spice it up any which way you choose. If, after you've written something, you go back and read it and you're bored, chances are good that so will everyone else be (bored). If you think it rocks, then push "publish" and let 'er rip. In short, trust your gut. It won't lie to you, if you're paying attention.

Taking notes...and other nasty habits.

One of my favorite authors calls herself "a mule". She's one of those who spends a year or more doing research, making notes on index cards, gathering information, etc., before she even thinks about sitting down to begin her book. I admire that. I sometimes wish I were that way. But I'm not. And so, as I said in the beginning, I am not here to tell you "how". Because the thing is, no matter how much I admire her or any of the other writers I hold in high esteem, they are not me.

And I am not you. Which is why I think the whole idea of telling anyone "how to" is just silly. I believe in the Great Creative Mind. I believe that we each hold a piece of that in our own selves. And after years of writing and honing and reading and writing some more, the one thing I know for sure is this:

Nobody writes like me. Nobody is me. Nobody lives in my skin. So why in the world would I let "them" tell me how to write? Writing is a magical, mysterious, marvelous craft. In my world, it is the reason I get out of bed every day. It may not be so in your world. So, if there is any kind of "how to" here, it is simply this:

Be who you are. Write how you write. Trust your gut. And don't let anybody tell you "how to" ever again!

{Oh. Wait. Didn't I just tell you "how to"? Crap. I knew it'd sneak in there somehow.}


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    • kryptowrite profile image

      Rodney C Lawley 

      6 years ago from Southeastern United States

      I agree with Jools99's comments. Writing, beyond the mechanics of putting sentences together, is a form of entertainment. There are many different ways to find the magic that entertains and informs. This article did both for me.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      7 years ago from North-East UK

      Really enjoyed this hub; your enthusiasm for writing is infectious and I was in a doubtful state today about my writing - you've made me think I should keep at it, thanks for that. Voted up!


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