Writers are an interesting lot. We’re so full of—and surrounded by—dichotomies, it’s a wonder we don’t second-guess ourselves every moment we spend in front of the computer tip tap typing away.


Focus on the story.

Well, okay. Maybe we don’t spend every moment obsessing about i before e—or is it ie after eieiei?—but I’d say two out of three wouldn’t be stretching it. I’m guessing it’s one reason you’re here, reading this blog post, hoping I’ll share the truth of writing with you. If only I knew what it was.


Focus on the story.

Sadly, I don’t think there is one big universal truth. Actually, let me rephrase that. We should be overjoyed that there isn’t only one perfect right way to write. If there were, every book would take on the appearance and feel of each other, like a book with normal, unexceptional heroines who meet mysterious strangers in high school and find out something super-scary-secret about them, but it just attracts them even more and—


Focus on the story.

Oh, I guess we do that too. We writers breathlessly await the next insightful post on how to write the most excellent synopsis ever and delight in laughing at the bad, bad queries the shark attacks on her blog. Like we’d ever splice a comma. Hah! We wouldn’t, would we?


Focus on the story.

Not that those things are bad, really. It’s just, when we’re starting out with writing—almost like when we start out in life—we don’t know who we are, or even how to do things right. Without an example, that is. So we find mentors and learn everything we can from them, wearing the same perfume, dotting our i’s the exact same way, using a similar rhyming pattern because it works (for them).


Focus on the story.

What are we to do then? Should we ignore the advice that got us here? Or should we not even learn the rules everyone parrots and must never, ever, ever, ever break, like asking a rhetorical question. Why would anyone want to do that?


Focus on the story.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we try those training-wheel things when we’re first learning to write. Then, when we’ve grown to the point where we want to make hell and break all the rules, we start to experiment a bit and do some of our own stuff. Any maybe, by the time our writing matures into near-publishable quality, we don’t even think about all those little points we obsessed over for so long.


Focus on the story.

Hey, maybe there’s something to that whole, “Focus on the story” thing. Maybe, instead of worrying over sentence fragments and the perfect way to format a query, we focus on what this whole writing business is about: telling a story.


Focus on the story.

I realize it won’t solve every moment of doubt or prevent writers block from ever striking, but letting all the little things go will allow you, the storyteller, to tell a story. You, the obsessive-compulsive caffeine-jittering zombie, will fade away.


Focus on the story.

We won’t need someone telling us how to write, because we’ll have figured it out for ourselves. If we make a mess of the manuscript, we’ve learned how to go back and mop it up a bit, and then continue on stronger than before. And we’ll love what we’re doing because we know how to


Focus on the story.