Thursday, June 2, 2022

Writing Advice for Writers Who Haven't found Writing Advice that Works


by Lynn H. Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

I love being able to talk to new writers and give them some encouragement. I love sharing from my own experience—the things that worked and the things that didn’t. 

But here’s the scary part. I still have no idea what I’m doing.

There are a lot of writing experts out there. They really do know what they’re doing. They’re great at it. They write lots of books, and they write books about writing books. And some writers read those books, apply those methods, and experience great success. 

I am not one of those writers.

I have read so.many.books on the craft that I should be an expert by now. Surely at least one of those methods works for me. Right? 

Um. Yeah. About that. It has taken me many years to realize something important. I write the way I write, and the way I write is unlike the way anyone else writes. And that is okay.

My personal approach is a mishmash of the methods I’ve read, with a healthy swirl of my own weirdness. I cannot tell you how to write a book. I can’t even tell you how I write a book. But I can write books. 

If you’ve found a writing style that works for you, then do not let anything I’m about to say change your mind. You’ve found your path. Stay on it!!! This will probably be true of 30-40% of writers. I’m thrilled for you. Truly.

But, if you’ve been taking classes, reading books, and fretting over the fact that you can’t seem to figure out a method that works for you, may I humbly suggest that the reason for that is that no one else’s method is ever going to work for you? You’re going to have to figure out your own way of doing it and trust the process that comes naturally to you.

You are probably an organic/discovery/intuitive writer (which sounds and is way better than pantser) and trying to make yourself into a different kind of writer is not going to work.

It has taken me years to understand this, and if I can save some of you some angst and drama, that would make me very happy.

So here’s my writing advice for writers who find that writing advice almost never works:

1. Read all the books you can about the writing craft, but don’t assume that because it works for someone else, even lots of someones, that it will work for you. 

I’m not trying to be a downer here, but if your expectation is that you’ll somehow find the holy grail that will unlock the secret to your writing success in someone else’s approach, you’re going to be disappointed. 

So, why do I suggest reading these books anyway? I’m so glad you asked. 

2. When I read a writing book, I’m not looking for a method I can emulate. I’m looking for little nuggets that resonate. It could be a suggestion about character development, pacing, or status that I’ve never heard put quite that way before. It could be a thought about revisions or about story creation that clicks with me. 

I’ve never read a book on writing that didn’t have at least one good suggestion that I could put into practice—in my own way. My style of writing takes everything I’ve ever learned and uses it. Usually not in the way it was intended. 

This is why I say that…

3. When you find a suggestion that speaks to you, give it a whirl. If it works, make it yours. But don’t be afraid to tweak it. It’s highly unlikely that the way it works for you will be exactly the same way it worked for someone else. 

This can be terrifying, especially for new writers. The tendency is to think that if someone who is so successful and wise about writing does it this way, that it is the only way. 

No. Nope. Not true. 

I have lots of writing friends. Some write in a way that is polar opposite to my own approach. Some write in a similar way to the way I do it. But not a single one of us write exactly the same way. 

I’m not sure why we find that surprising. God made us all different. We bring our own life experience, education, family dynamics, and brain wiring to the page. It makes perfect sense to me that how we apply what we’ve learned will be as unique as we are. 

This means that you’re going to have to find your own path and then…

4. Trust your process. Now, friends, this is something that will take time. You are not going to be able to trust a process that hasn’t given you results. Which means you’re going to have to write. A lot. I’m eight books and three novellas in, and I’m still learning to trust my process. To trust that if I do what I’ve learned I need to do, that eventually the story will unfold. There is no shortcut to this. You learn to trust your process by trusting your process. It will take time. I’m sorry. I wish I could make it easier. I can’t.

But I can leave you with this:

5. The method that works for you is the most efficient method for you. What I’ve come to understand is that leaning into my own process really is the most efficient way for me to get words on the page. Trying to force myself to write in a different way, even if the theory says that way would be faster/better/more logical, only results in lost time and frustration. 

If this resonated with you today, I’d love to chat with you about it in the comments!

Grace and peace,





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Lynn H. Blackburn loves writing romantic suspense because her childhood fantasy was to become a spy, but her grown-up reality is that she's a huge chicken and would have been caught on her first mission. She prefers to live vicariously through her characters and loves putting them into all kinds of terrifying situations while she's sitting at home safe and sound in her pajamas! 

Unknown Threat, the first book in her Defend and Protect series, was a 2021 Christy Award finalist and her previous titles have won the Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award. Malicious Intent, the second book in the series, released March 2022.

She is a frequent conference speaker and has taught writers all over the country. Lynn lives in South Carolina with her true love and their three children. You can follow her real life happily ever after by signing up for her newsletter at LYNNHBLACKBURN.COMand @LynnHBlackburn on BOOKBUB, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, andINSTAGRAM.

13 comments:

  1. Lynn, such a great subject. Having met you before you were published and following your career after publication I think you’re the first I’ve seen with an honest discussion on the subject. This has been my struggle because I’ve tried several writing methods that worked for others but not for me. So many creative ways to get a book finished but you have confirmed what I concluded it’s ok to have my own method and it takes time to discover what that is. Thanks Lynn!

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    1. Lynn H BlackburnJune 2, 2022 at 8:35 PM

      Thank you, Daphne! You are always such an encouragement. It's been a joy to be on this journey with you!

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  2. Thanks for affirming how I write.

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    1. Lynn H BlackburnJune 2, 2022 at 8:36 PM

      Oh, this makes me smile! So glad this encouraged you!

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  3. Your insight comes at a perfect time! I'm an old man finally having time to pursue writing as a hobby. I've read many books on writing but seem to be in a "paralysis by analysis" predicament. Thank you for releasing me!

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    1. Lynn H BlackburnJune 2, 2022 at 8:38 PM

      I've been in the "paralysis by analysis" stage many times so I feel your pain! Blessings as you write!

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  4. Lynn, this is perfect advice and I wish someone had given it to me years ago., I've been to so many classes and have so many writing books, it's made writing seem impossible to conquer. However, now that I've found what works for me, I can look at those methods and realize I can't do them all and don't have to. As a pantser, I love the surprises God gives me as I follow the story while I write. I've met some of the most interesting people that way!

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    1. Lynn H BlackburnJune 2, 2022 at 8:38 PM

      Yes!!! My FAVORITE parts of writing are the surprises!! I once met a character on the porch of a house and I remember thinking, "Well, hello! Who are you?" LOL!

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  5. What encouraging words! I think it's huge that you have validated so many of us just getting started or a few years in still floundering for a "style". I'm sure one of those! I find it difficult to "understand" a lot of what is written or taught. I'm a learner by doing, not by teaching necessarily. I've started reading countless books about writing and always get so confused that I find myself more discouraged when I'm done. I've found it easier to listen to an author talk and pull nuggets from their information or read smaller articles. I devour fiction books, but these others on the craft send me into a tailspin. I appreciate this email daily because it's been such an encouragement to me and given me strong advice. Thank you!

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    1. Lynn H BlackburnJune 2, 2022 at 8:41 PM

      It's SO important to figure out what works for you! And it requires some bravery to step forward in that - knowing that it may not make sense to others, but it's exactly what you need to learn and grow as a writer! So bravo to you!!

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  6. Loved this post! I can so relate. Thank you, Lynn. I am what you call an "organic / discovery / intuitive" writer. While I have a good idea of where I want my story to go before I write it, I need my GPS (the Holy Spirit) along the way to get me there. Thanks for an encouraging post.

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  7. Lynn H BlackburnJune 2, 2022 at 8:42 PM

    Thank you! And you make an excellent point! I'd never get to the end without a lot of prayer!

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  8. Lynn, thank you! I'm glad someone felt free enough to state what some of us have experienced. I tried hard and shed tears trying to write the expected "way" to no avail. As a person with learning disabilities and dyslexi, I shouldn't be attempting to write. I need to do it the only way and that is the way God wants me to write. With Him as He unfolds the story. There is no manual for that process. God showed me His sense of humor when He called me to this writing journey. There is no manual. I keep learning and implementing what works for me. Three children's chapter books, eleven novellas, one novel and Lord willing, many more.

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