The Tao of Writing: Seeking Your Path
If this blog is successful, you will blatantly disregard most of the advice I will provide in this space. No, this is not a sophomoric attempt at reverse psychology, nor is it a sad attempt to hook you, the reader, with a provocative statement. This is actually my sincere hope for you as a writer. So why read the rest of this post, (never mind future ones)? Read on, to find out.
There is a ton of writing advice out there. Most of it sounds roughly the same. If one reads it, as your humble author certainly has, one may think there was only one way to write successfully. This could not be further from the truth. Groupthink, by its nature is reductive. “Kill all your darlings” may have been bold and provocative when Faulkner said it. Now, it has become cliché. Moreover, If you write just like everyone else, your writing will read like everyone else’s.
There are as many different ways to write successfully as there are successful writers. Each writer must find her or his own path to success. Process is deeply personal, and what works for one writer probably won’t work for another.
Of course, there are certain basics one must master to become a successful writer. There are elements of the toolbox which every author must have, such as a working knowledge of grammar and usage and a basic understanding of literary elements such as story structure, characterization, setting, etc, but beyond these foundational skills, writing is an art, not a science.
It is my goal to model my path for you, to show you what allows me to be successful as a writer, as well as the things with which I struggle. I will, of course share specific advice that has worked for me (and credit the source when applicable). Hopefully, some of my tips will help you as well. I will break down passages from authors I admire to pull back the curtain and show the machinery that makes their writing work. I will draw connections with other aspects of my life from which I learned lessons I eventually applied to my writing. Perhaps these anecdotes will expand the way you think about writing. As you might imagine from this post so far, I will challenge the conventional wisdom about writing and the writing process. In will also endeavor to use my experiences as a teacher of reading and writing—and my history of working with a variety of young writer whose talent and dedication has varied wildly—to present my advice as clearly and cogently as possible.
Now, the techniques that work for me may not work for you. The authors I read and admire may not be your favorites. My outside interests from which I derive much of my beliefs about writing may not be your own. That’s ok. Hopefully the way I analyze language and experience, the way I make connections with other areas of my life, and the way I read the authors I love, will help you make similar connections, find strategies that work for you, and analyze the writers whom you most admire. If I blog about something specific that works for you, that’s wonderful. Please make take it as your own. If not, hopefully my process, my journey, can help you find your own.
My hope for you, dear reader, is not to provide a template, but help guide you on your search for your “way” of writing. In his essays about his journey, the great martial artist and philosopher, Bruce Lee, said, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is useless. Add what is uniquely your own.” That is great advice, not just for writing, but for life in general. It is my goal to help you through that process as you seek and find your own path, your own Tao as a writer.