Advice on Writing, Vol. 2

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ernest Hemingway famously said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed." And, although I highly respect the cat-loving writer, I must say that sometimes, after I've sat at a computer and "bled" for a while, I read my work, and realize it stinks. This is where this week's writer's advice comes in! Brought to you by none other than Cheryl Strayed.

In Tiny Beautiful Things by Strayed*, she shares all kinds of advice on life, love, struggle, and pain, but also the occasional gems on writing, since Strayed is a writer herself! Win-win-win.

*You still haven't read this book, but you read my blog? I'd like you to please stop reading my blog, and spend all the time you could spend reading my blog reading this book ;)

There is a particular chapter that really stuck with me called Transcend.

In it, Strayed writes:

"I teach memoir writing occasionally. I always ask my students to answer two questions about the work they and their peers have written: What happened in this story? and What is this story about? It's a useful way to see what's there. A lot of times, it isn't much. Or rather, it's a bunch of what happened that ends up being about nothing at all. ... For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means."

I love those two questions — such a good gauge for substance in writing. Admittedly, in blogging, there isn't a ton of transcendence. What happens in my DIY Bauble Necklace post is I make my own bauble necklace, and that's what it's about. But some of my favorite posts (I'm talking from other people, here) really do seem to transcend. And books? Transcendence is obviously huge. In my English major days, it was like a buzzword around the classroom table. (Like "synergy!" in business meetings.)

But, I've never seen it laid out as simply as Strayed does — and I love it —so I just had to share!

What's your favorite writing tip? :)

No comments

Post a Comment