Make Your Writing Quirks Work for You

 

Anne Rice
“I’ve been told all my life that I was not a writer! I just marvel at it.”

Best-selling writer Anne Rice was the featured interviewee in the Nov/Dec ’13 edition of Writer’s Digest. It was so refreshing to hear Anne stress that there are no rules in writing. In fact, she’s been frequently told that she isn’t a “real writer”:

I was discouraged very early in my college years by people who told me I wasn’t a real writer because I didn’t write every day. Things like that should not be said. And anybody who says anything like that, you have to ignore them. You know, there are no rules.

And I love how she openly shares her struggles with certain parts of the writing process:

The biggest problem for me . . . is getting into the story. I can see the whole thing. The whole shape, all the characters, what they’re doing, and I can’t seem to find a way to break in. And I rewrite the opening pages over and over and over again. It’s like OCD—it’s like hand-washing. And finally I get so frustrated that I go and pick up something like The Godfather by Mario Puzo, which is great storytelling, but just any way he wants to do it. I mean, he may introduce Luca Brasi here, and never get to physically describing him until 50 pages later, to never get to telling who he really is until 100 pages after that. And that clears up my OCD. OK, just plunge—just start. Just go.

(She also added that it isn’t until she’s two or three hundred pages into a manuscript when she finally knows she’s not going to quit!)

I especially like Anne’s parting thoughts at the end of the interview:

Protect your voice and your vision . . . Do what gets you to write, and not what blocks you. And no matter where you are in your career, whether you’re published, unpublished, or just starting out, walk through the world as a writer. That’s who you are, and that’s what you want to be, and don’t take any guff off anybody.

Writers Write (Most of the Time)

Humans are driven by emotion (as much as we may not want to admit it). We go through cycles of motivation, of laziness, of optimism, of cynicism, of happiness, of sadness.

Just because we haven’t been consistently doing something our entire lives doesn’t mean it isn’t a part of who we are.

Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird when she was in her twenties. It won the Pulitzer Prize and she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature. She’s now eighty-six and has yet to publish another book. Is she a “real writer”?

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte was published over one hundred fifty years ago; it’s required reading in most college literature courses. Emily never published another book. Was she a real writer?

Margaret Mitchell only published one book too: Gone with the Wind. Same with J.D. Salinger and Catcher in the Rye.

My point is that—yes—writers write, obviously. But not all of the time, sometimes not even most of the time. There is no threshold a writer has to cross in order to be considered a “real writer.”

You are a writer if you say you are.