Listen. Think. Speak. Write.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Variety and the imperfect perfection

I used to be a part of a monthly blog hop called the "Insecure Writer's Group" but I'd been letting that slide.  I valued that experience so I'm "hopping" back in. One of the things I've found most valuable over the years is the way in which my writing lessons have connected to life lessons.  Learning a new skill has given me so much perspective on everything else I've already learned, and I'll carry on that perspective today.

Aspiring writers are told to be voracious readers.  Agents, editors, and fellow writers insist that reading improves writing—makes sense, right?  It gives authors an understanding of market and genre, helps them notice concepts of voice and story development which may either subtly or directly influence one's own writing.

Potentially, reading also changes perspective about your own writing. One of the things that happens when you read a lot is that you don't like every book.  You might even hate some.  It's possible you'll even despite a book that everyone in the world things is the best thing ever written.  You might really enjoy a book or an author who "serious" critics say is too formulaic or sophomoric (or YA or fanfic or "trashy" novels). 

The point is, we all have different expectations and different preferences, right?  As a writer, it lets me off the hook a bit.  Perfection is relative ... to what?  Good is relative to what?  Now, that doesn't mean I advocate writing crap, but it's a good reminder.

As a public speaking teacher, I constantly tell my students that good speaking isn't one-size-fits-all.  It's about being an authentic communicator, about your ethos.  You need to be the best YOU possible even if you have some delivery flubs and or your voice is high-pitched.  It may be what audiences most like about you.

The same goes for writing, it goes for your job and your relationships and your art and your music and your bathroom remodel and everything else under the sun.  The more variety you experience, the more you're able to find yourself in the process. 

Your imperfections are an important part of your voice.


  1. Excellent advice and insight. The sheer volume of books out there - successful, well-received books - in countless genres and styles indicate that there is an audience for just about anything. You don't have to fit your work to a particular audience, you need to find your voice, master it and embrace it, then find the audience that will appreciate you.

  2. Love the idea of being "an authentic communicator." It really is often our unique voice that draws people to us.

  3. Reading improves our writing. Someone once told me that reading is like doing homework for writers.

    Rachna Chhabria
    Co-host IWSG
    Rachna's Scriptorium

  4. Nice post! Finding that unique 'voice' and not being afraid to show it has been the key to my contracts. And it won't be a voice everyone will like, if it's original.

  5. I needed to read this today. Great post!

  6. Great post, Tricia! I really needed to read this. I try to remind myself of this all the time, being a perfectionist. Sometimes imperfections are what adds character to a story :)

  7. The best You you can be - great advice. I am a perfectionist by nature and it's hard to turn that off when writing. But I know that all I can do is my very best.
    Welcome back to the IWSG!

  8. Good point! We shouldn't worry about perfection - it's a nebulous concept. We just have to be true to who we are. Nice to meet you via IWSG!

  9. Glad you're rejoining the group. I've only been a member for a few months. New follower here, and I look forward to visiting again!


  10. Thank you all for stopping by! I'm glad to be back. It's a good motivator! Keep on being imperfectly perfect in every way!

  11. This is a wonderful post. I do a fair amount of public speaking in my day job, and I never compared that to finding my voice as an author, but it's true!

    And despising a book everyone else seems to love teaches me a lot about my expectations for readers of my books. Diana Gabaldon says it well: "If you’re going to have more than one person read your book, they’re going to have totally different opinions and responses. No person — no two people — read the same book. It’s always based on their perceptions, their background, their experiences, their expectations of the moment."

  12. I've always been an independent reader--- I've read books that the literature professors said are trash, and some that they recommend. I learn from both.