I’m thrilled to have Julie Kieras here today addressing whether she believes there’s a Golden Rule of Writing. I met Julie through a local book club and instantly enjoyed discussing characters and the stories with her. She’s intelligent, driven, kind, and passionate. Exactly what I look for in a friend. ;-)
I had the honor of visiting her blog not long ago. I’m grateful our paths have crossed and today I’m excited you’ll get a chance to get to know Julie better.
There was a time when reading "how to write" books was my passion. My shelves are stocked with the wisdom of Ralph Fletcher, Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, and… even Snoopy! (Oh yes, that spotted doggy has a lot to say about the art and craft of writing!).
I always felt there was some "other" great secret to be found about how to write well...if I could just read one more book.
Maybe it's the Type A in me that liked hearing maybe, just maybe, there was a Golden Rule of Writing and if I followed it, fame and fortune (or at least a published book of some sort) might follow.
So here I am seventeen years out of college as a Creative Writing major, with no books to my name (but a few articles!). It's funny how now as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m busier than ever, but finding myself writing more than when I had what, in retrospect, was gobs of time on my hands.
As a family life blogger, I've written over 1,500 posts on my main site. Looking back on these recent years, I see how all this writing has taught me the truth behind the advice of my favorite mentor authors.
One. Writers write. In the past I READ about writing more than I actually wrote. I waited for lightning strikes of inspiration that seemed to come far and few. Now, I'm writing daily. Maybe not always the literary canon kind of writing I'm passionate about (poetry and creative nonfiction), but I'm constantly exercising my writing skills. The result is my confidence and body of work has grown. Something that wasn't happening while I just daydreamed about becoming a published author.
Two. Write what you know. This advice used to puzzle me. I went to school to become a writer. I studied writing. I became a teacher who taught writing. What did I know? Writing. I knew writing really really well. But that didn't leave me much to write about.
When I started my parenting and family life blog, my early posts were very hesitant. Brief. I labored over them. What did I know about parenting and raising kids. (Okay, truthfully, four years in, what do I STILL know?! Ha!).
As a new mom, I went through six months of struggles with breast feeding. And my writing reflected that, with a mini-series helping breast feeding moms feel supported. Suddenly, knowing a LOT about breast feeding gave me a passionate voice on that topic.
Fast forward a year, and I was constantly entertaining a busy toddler...and writing a series of "toddler exploration" posts.
As I flip through my posts, I realized the truth behind "write what you know." Four years ago what did I know about breastfeeding? Virtually nada! About toddler play? Definitely nothing about the rhythm and beauty of keeping up with an active boy!
But now? Now my life informs my work.
I'm writing what I know about parenting and motherhood as I experience it. Sure, other people write about similar topics, but nobody with my voice and my personal experiences.
My writing changes as our family changes and grows. I reflected aloud to my husband recently about how I probably won't write my annual breastfeeding series this year. I've said most of what I have to say on that topic, and we’re just not experiencing that phase anymore.
However… we have launched into the world of homeschooling, travel with kids, and miniature homesteading… and I'm excited to write about these new experiences as they come.
When we as writers simply write what we know, we will never fall short of ideas, our writing voice will ring strong and true, and we will connect with the heart of our readers.
Of course, some things never change....after all, look at me here... I'm writing about writing, aren't I?
Julie is a mom of two energetic boys and wife to her brainy and green-thumbed husband. She writes for her parenting and family life blog Happy Strong Home, and her pieces can also be found on the Melissa & Doug blog and Ergobaby blog. She dreams of one day publishing a lyrical children’s book illustrated by one of her favorite artists, or a book of poems on motherhood.
*Just a note that I won't be posting next Wednesday. See you in a few weeks.