I know a man who makes a very good living from being funny. He isn’t just funny, though, he gives people advice in a way that makes them laugh. And listen.

As a young man he wanted to be a comedian. When he told his family they compared him to Seinfeld, then at the top of his career, and the comparison did not make this man look good.

His brother even told him bluntly “You are not funny!”

But he tried. He went to comedy clubs and decided he could be at least as funny as the other would-be comedians who were struggling to start their career. So he prepared a routine and went on stage. He did not do well.

So he asked a comedian who was having a some success for help.

The comedian asked him “Are you funny?”

And he had to admit “No, I’m not.”

“Good.” said the comedian. “In that case I can teach you. If you’d said you were funny I wouldn’t even try.”

OK. your aim may not be humor. But you are a writer. When you venture to tell people this they immediately place you in their own frame of reference – J K Rowling, Danielle Steele, John Grisham or whoever is their favorite author. This comparison may not flatter you. But you are you. Your writing is your writing. Your writing is unique.

Look to grow in those places where writers grow. In a writers group, at a conference or a workshop or a course. Go to places and talk to people who offer you insights. Ask those who are ahead of you on the path for help. Find ways to build on your innate creativity. When you hear someone suggesting a new way of approaching a story, try it.

It might not work for you, but in trying it you grow. You open yourself up to the new and different. Perhaps it might work if you gave it a little tweak.

Much of my writing, I find, consists of building blocks. Each building block has to be as close to perfect as I can make it. Then it has to fit perfectly with all the other building blocks of the story. It can’t just sit there as a block, either, it has to be linked – have tentacles into all the other building blocks so the story is tightly woven together. So tightly woven that it flows together as a unity and the blocks can’t be picked apart.

I seem to have mixed my metaphors there. Building blocks that turn into an octopus and then into a piece of fabric and back into building blocks. How else would I illustrate the complexity of writing?

 

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