Guest Post: Janna T

Today you can find me at the blog of fellow Serial Centraller Janna, while here she is… so after you’ve read her take, please check my view on the topic… I will not comment on the way this swap happened, I’m just very happy to have Janna here! Please welcome my guest post of today and our very similar discussion! 🙂

Everybody and Their Mother Say So

I’d love to think of myself as a writing rebel, my unique ideas and distinctive voice so far from the pack of “ordinary” writers that the literary world can’t help but pay attention to me.

I’d also like to pull off wearing Wonder Woman’s costume, but that isn’t going to happen either. (I watched Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman when I was a child and I wanted to BE her. Those wrist cuffs and red boots ROCKED!)

If a massively popular author said that the way to get published was to write sentences backwards, would you do it? I can hear you now: “Uh, that’s just stupid. Of course not!”

Unfortunately, following can happen in our writing journey without us knowing it. We stifle our inner voice to copy emulate our successful favorites. We choose topics that have sold well in recent past (vampire novel, anyone?) Or we take agents’ likes and dislikes as gospel and aim to please (because we really, really, really want to be published.) If you haven’t been stymied by any of these, I’m jealous of you right now because you are much more in tune with your creativity than me.

Confession #1
In my early twenties, a creative writing instructor suggested branching out of our comfort zones. I experimented with coarse language and violence in my first (unfinished) attempt at a novel. I knew it wasn’t right because it felt forced as I wrote it and I didn’t want others to read it. Another sign? I quit after thirty pages.
Confession #2
I have stalked read agents’ blogs and tortured myself with their “peeves” lists, which often include “tired” plots. Let’s just say that many of my original ideas aren’t so phenomenal after all. I’ve abandoned more than one idea after locating it on a half-baked or overdone list.

    Ruling the World Market: Shock Sells?

    Media pushes the odd, askew, and often demented. They’re onto something: twisted stories grab attention and the world is a horrible place full of inspiration. I’m not saying we shouldn’t shed light on the ugliness and tackle tough subjects, but we should write in a way that makes people feel something (other than queasiness). We want them to laugh, cry, get angry and sympathize – we want them to care.

    Extending outside our comfort zone is a healthy exercise – as long as we don’t sacrifice our core values. As writers, we need to be in touch with our limits and write how it feels right to us. Here’s an example for me: it’s possible that I could write a story involving the murder of a child. Though I couldn’t describe what the child endured, I could depict how the event impacted the family and community. I’d leave the shock value to a stronger author.

    Bottom line: If we find the market trends, agents’ likes, or anybody’s mother are leading our writing: snap out of it. We must not be seduced by external forces. Let our souls be our guide: if an idea doesn’t stem from a need deep within us to write it, then the story will likely not be infused with the passion needed to make it special. Amazing writing has a way of finding its own market.

    I write novels, short stories and poetry, as well as blog about life, writing (and everything in between). By day, I work in the insurance industry; at night, I write when I can. Twenty-four hours a day, I’m a wife and mom who dreams of one day becoming a published author.

    Previous Post


    1. Excellent post and very true! If you’re uncomfortable writing it, I think it translates into the work, and then you’re just embarrassed to have people read it, anyway.


    2. Your post makes a good point about writing well, about being convincing as a storyteller. Being who we are affects every part of our lives. If we depart from who we are in our writing, it would seem probable that the inner conflict would detrimentally affect our writer’s voice, as you say early in your post. I’ve been told that voice is an important aspect of writing.


    3. Excellent post, Janna!

      And I love the photo . . . perfect intro to the piece. WW was one of a kind, for sure. 😀


      • Thanks, Nancy! I appreciate you stopping by to read it. I liked the photo, too. I see the pose as strong, not provocative.


    4. Joleene – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Carol – I agree that voice is very important, but it wasn’t hardest for me to recognize in my own writing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂


    5. Outstanding, and you’ve touched on one of my pet peeves, following the writing crowd! When we start out, we try anything, but as we mature, we realize we have to write from within ourselves, not follow a mold set up by outsiders. Too often, formulaic stuff is just that — formulaic. Thanks for an interesting read!


      • I guess we have to experiment in the beginning to find our way (just like we try out different clothing styles during high school) but we do need to eventually settle on a style that works for us.

        I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and as always, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts 🙂


    %d bloggers like this: