There is only one way to write: your way – Louise Guy

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By Louise Guy

I find it quite frightening when I’m asked for writing advice. At first draft stage, my books tend to write themselves. My part in the equation is having the discipline to help make this happen.

So the alarm is set for around 4.30 a.m, word count is achieved before the rest of the house wakes, and for the rest of the day the story gets mulled over by my subconscious. Once the first draft is finished, the read-through is always a surprise. I know the overall storyline, but the descriptions, the dialogue, the intensity I’ve captured in my first draft: it all surprises me. So, if I’m surprised then how do I give advice on the craft of writing? Easy — I don’t.

There is already so much great advice for writers. Some that we hear time and time again. Some that early on in my writing career I wish had come with the following disclaimers:

Find your tribe.
Disclaimer – make sure these are people you actually like.

Just because (for example) you write romance doesn’t mean every romance writers’ group will suit you. People who have a connection with you make up your tribe. I’ve attended a number of writing groups and felt completely out of place. I thought these were tribes I needed to belong to. I wondered what was wrong with me: Why didn’t I fit in when we all had this common interest? I didn’t fit in because groups aren’t my thing. I enjoy having a few very good friends rather than a lot of acquaintances. I know them well and they know me. That’s no different in my writing world. Having a handful of writer friends who I can chat with for hours either in person or online is doing it my way.

Conferences, workshops, master classes, author talks.
Disclaimer – not everything you hear at these events will be right for you.

If you hear a presenter stand up and use the words You Must then you need to determine whether their focus is relevant to you. When I first started writing and attending events, I listened to a well-known author stress You Must plot your entire story in detail. You Must read at least fifty books in the genre before you start writing. You Must, You Must, You Must. As a pantster, this wasn’t good news for me. I was obviously doing it all wrong. But was I? Did I really need to stop, for what would take me at least a year, to read fifty books in the genre? I came to learn the answer was NO. The best way was my way.

So whatever is presented to you in the writing world, weigh it up carefully. Will it fit with who you are/where you’re at? Yes. Then go for it. No. Then be confident and trust in your way.

Louise Guy writes commercial women’s fiction as well as adventure/fantasy stories for 6-12 year olds. She released her debut women’s fiction, Everyday Lies, this year, with AusRom Today stating: “A brilliant and compelling read that highlights Guy’s superb storytelling abilities.” With twelve middle grade fiction books published to date, when she’s not writing, Louise can often be found running writing workshops or giving author talks at local schools. Fortunate Friends is out now.

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