When You Wish You Were Another Writer

Why can’t I write ________?

  • faster?
  • sexier?
  • shorter?
  • 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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