Being Honest

Whether you are drawn to writing fiction, fantasy, chic lit, New Age or memoir, there is really nothing more fundamental than being honest. Not brutal, but honest and clear about your motives, your intentions, what you are trying to say and how you express your voice. It is only through honesty that we can build the conviction that leads to convincing writing. The talents on display for each genre are going to be different, and each of us will find our strengths as we continue to write. But without honesty, any surface appeal will soon wither.

Honestly writing to make a living is a good enough motive, and will help to clarify for you what parts of your material feel commercially attractive. Writing in order to gain understanding or empathy is another worthwhile motive, and one which will come into play a great deal in fields such as memoir and New Age. Purely as an outlet for personal or artistic expression, writing is equally valid, though as a justification for spending regular, committed time on our craft, this reason, the purest of all, is often in danger of being downplayed, particularly by women writers who tend to be dismissive of what they bring to the writing table. It is not that women are less talented than their male counterparts; it is that we appear to take our ambitions less seriously.


Albert Anker, 'Junge Frau einen Brief schreibend'1903
Albert Anker, ‘Junge Frau einen Brief schreibend’1903

I hope you read a lot, look, listen and squirrel away details. I hope you go out and have an interesting life, because being active as well as reflective will bequeath you material to use in your writing, and, more importantly, it will give you oxygen to breathe, time to rest and appreciate, time to notice the outside world. Writing cannot grow in isolation. It needs a source, it needs time out, just as we all do. Getting away from the desk gives us pause to reflect, allowing time for new ideas and inspiration to spark up. Energy is what gives writing its focus, and without outside interests, either our energy will be misapplied, or it will sag and wilt from lack of refreshment.

Writers spend a lot of time thinking, dwelling inside their heads or with their thoughts and feelings. If you are anything like me, you will watch people with fascination, just to notice their facial expressions, to try and imagine their motives. You may linger at the beach or be drawn to gaze hypnotically at waves crashing on a beach, or at the sunset, long after other people have packed away their picnic bags and gone home, brushing sand from their feet and already caught up with what happens next. Observation, empathy, intimacy and patience, all these qualities inform our writing and make it authentic. So, take time to do other things, to notice how life moves. That kind of patience is time well spent. If it makes you feel better, you can always call it research!

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