Don’t Try To Be Shakespeare – He Didn’t!

Shakespeare just wrote as himself, and you should too. While trying to emulate another famous writer can be useful as an exercise (just as an artist might copy the Mona Lisa as a “study”), that approach is never useful in creating or advancing your own art.

Sure, read what other write, dissect their work, and practice their techniques – even in your own creations, but ONLY if those techniques also fit your own personality and style.   The best way to achieve Writer’s Block is to try and write like someone else.  When you do, you are hobbling your Muse; locking her in irons.  You are trying to play a role for which you are unsuited.

Of course we all want to be beloved successful writers, but we are not all going to be.  You are only as good as you own talent – GET OVER IT!

Why are you writing in the first place?  To make a buck?  To make a name for yourself?  Or perhaps, just perhaps (Lord help us) because you actually like writing?  Or maybe, just maybe, because you want to like writing, but don’t, try as you may?

Fact is, while money and fame are good motivators for any career, be it singing, dancing, playing a sport or writing, if they are the Prime Motivators, you won’t have a very good time doing it, whatever “it” is.

The Wise Man famously said, “Work at what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  The important aspect here is that he didn’t expect to become a famous wise man when he said it.  It just occurred to him as part of his personally satisfying manner of thinking.  Just as it occurs to me to say, “Don’t blame the weather – its’ only humid.”

Now that clever little phrase is never going to make me rich OR famous.  But I did have a really enjoyable time telling it to you.  And that, dear readers, is the very essence of the writing life to which we should all aspire.

Unless you truly enjoy laboring over a single book for your entire life, word by word, with endless rewrites and improvements, then just write it out as you feel it.  Plot doesn’t make sense?  Come back to it later when you know your story better.  Characters dull and derivative?  You’re not going to fix them by micromanaging them.

Give it up and get on with it.  Write endlessly.  Write until your fingers fall off.  Keep an archive somewhere to put all the stuff the world should never see and then post the bulk of the rest on your blog.  (You DO have a blog, don’t you?  All real writers have a blog…..)  And for those gems – the occasional piece that just zings and sings and hits the mark – well those you send off to a publisher, magazine or agent.

If you’re looking for gold, you won’t find as much by sifting the same sand through a finer and finer mesh as you will by marching from one dig to the next in search of nuggets.  So be prolific, knock the blocks out from under your tires, throw open the stop-cocks and let loose the dogs of words.