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When You Wish You Were Another Writer

Why can’t I write ________?

  • faster?
  • sexier?
  • shorter?
  • BIGGER?
  • better?

Why can’t I write books like the ones _______ writes?

  • Libba Bray?
  • Gayle Forman?
  • John Green?
  • Sara Zarr?
  • Holly Black?
  • Karen Russell?

Those are just a few of my fill-in-the-blanks, and I’m sure you can slip in your own words or author names to finish those sentences.

This is just a little writer public-service announcement that we are all only ourselves—and our best writing comes out when we recognize this and embrace it. My stories are my stories, and my way of writing them is simply… how I write. Yes, I spend a lot of time admonishing myself to seek out bigger plot points and shove out larger word counts, but I’d much rather look at a manuscript I’ve finished and know it’s wholly mine. That I didn’t hide who I was. That I didn’t try to be anyone other than this flawed, over-wordy, flighty, weird, cryptic writer whose body I happen to be in. Thankfully, 17 & Gone is this manuscript—and that’s not for lack of insulting myself and telling myself to do something else.

But also there’s this: We can be inspired by these other writers and methods of writing. We can admire their world-building and their important, beautiful, memorable, thrilling stories. They can help us stretch and grow to be stronger writers.

Thus ends my lecture to myself as I revise the novel I happened to write… which is mine as much as anything could be, for good and bad and worse and better, till death do us part.

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5 thoughts on “When You Wish You Were Another Writer

  1. Awww, I love this. That’s a great message.

    It seems like most authors, if you ask about their first book, will reveal that they wrote an imitation of some book they really loved. They pretty much all agree that their imitation was BAD. You have to write yourself. You can’t be anyone else, because you’re you. This is why all the best authors have their own unique style.

    I REALLY need to read one of your books. Or, you know, all of them.

  2. Thanks. Needed this today. And, you know, tomorrow. And, um, yesterday, and the day before, and next Tuesday and, and, and………………………………………

  3. This so painfully true, thank you for posting this. It’s good to remember that your voice is enough, particularly when wading through the rough patches in the manuscript. xx

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