July 8, 2013 by jcfarnham
I’ve been hearing a thing, or twenty, about the nature of the job, and the industry, and originality, and whatever else sort of matters. Here’s the thing though, being a writer is about writing, init? And the funny thing is that everyone with a half-way alright grasp of their native language could sit down and write a damn novel.
Like Chuck Wendig says, writing a novel isn’t hard in the “same way that building a chair isn’t hard: I can duct tape a bunch of beer cans and chopsticks together and make a chair. It won’t look pretty. And it’s an insurance liability.”
If you’re going to get bogged down in what others are saying about writing, then you’re almost certainly going to come up brimming with unoriginality.You’re going to pick up their habits, write what they think it cool, hell, you might even become them.
The only sure fire way to exercise your own voice is to write, write badly, stack those words up, forget whats going on in the world, and hack the thing to bits and polish until you have something worth presenting.
I’m certain that if you do that your wizarding school will be unique, or you space-bound marines won’t get sued.
Let’s be logical, you are you. The only way someone else could be you is if they lived exactly the same life right along with you. And even then they’d probably be a different kettle of fish altogether. Just look at twins.
How in the world could some one who isn’t you, down to the hair sticking out of that mole on your lip, write exactly what you’ve written?
I’m not… China Mieville. I’m not Jim butcher. I’m not Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, Harper Lee, or Clive Cussler. And that’s why, when I’m writing a first draft, I don’t worry about being unique. Ball’s to being unique. If I’m having fun, and that’ll do for now.
Let your beta readers call you out on a contrived plot, or how you cribbed from Wendig. I can garantee that if you’re being honest it won’t be exactly the same as the work they’re telling you about, because you aren’t that author. At best it’ll strongly remind them of something. (You have different characters right?)
But does that mean you shouldn’t listen to someone who tells you you’ve just rewritten Lord of the Rings? Of course not. You must listen. That’s what they’re there for. And hey if it’s a good story, then that’s all that matters.
People often say everything has been done before. They’re probably right too, but thing is it hasn’t yet been done by you, dear reader.
Have fun for the moment and be true to yourself, because everything can be fixed in post. The unique you will turn up eventually.
(I know, I know, two Wendig-isms in one post, but I’m reading him a lot at the moment and by goodness does most of it make sense.)