How Writers Write

Once A Writer, Always A Writer

Dear writers and readers, happy holidays!


For the Love of Story

As the holidays roll in, I’m feeling more hopeful about my writing and slowly inching my way out of long non-writing periods. Sometimes I want to put aside the novel I’m trying to revise, or write short stories instead. Sometimes I hate all the drafts and half drafts I have floating about and just forget writing, even!

Yet, my love of story prevails.


Thinking like a Writer

When I read, I can’t help but think like a writer. Recently I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series, which a famous TV show is based on. Reading it reminds me what good writing is, and I get excited to see what he’ll do next. I can’t help but study his technique.

We always hear as learning, new writers to “make your characters’ worst nightmares come true.” Martin actually does this. I don’t want to spoil his series for anyone who may be a newbie to it, like I was, but let’s just say that awful, awful things happen to this guy’s characters! Sometimes it seems too much to read further, too much to bear.

Yet, I keep reading on. I want to know, will the character pull through? Will they die? Will they get revenge on their tormentor? Will they be reunited with family? Who IS winning the game of thrones?

boy confused with lots of homework

“Write What You Know”

Another off-used adage is “write what you know.” I think this one is a tricky one. We know that Martin hasn’t fought for his life against stone zombies, tamed dragons, nor has J.K. Rowling attended a magic school. But these authors write about mystical things they’ve never experienced, and they write them so well.


I think that writing what you know is a lot more subtle than we think. For instance, Rowling has described how boggarts, which show is our fears, and dementors, which suck out souls, are based in her own fears and toxic people she met. She just converted these worldly things of life into magical creatures.

Writers, you can do this too. Think about themes of trouble that repeat in your life, issues that you roll around in your head, fears, things you avoid (and I mean big things, not the laundry!). Put those into your story; surround them with different colors, forms, names, and they can turn into neat creatures, places, or experiences of your characters’ that intrigue and delight your readers.


A Question For You

So as the holiday and New Year creeps upon us (or steamrolls us, as you like), I leave you with this thought:

How can you write what you know – but add a magic wand tap or a spin in the Tardis – to transform a mundane world fear or delight into something magical?

Until next year,


P.S. Next year – a complete journey through The Artist’s Way!




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