Tried and True Writing Advice Turned on Its Ear

I just read a bit of advice about “writing what you know” from John Wray over at The Center for Fiction, and it rang true. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s fine to ground one’s fiction in known, lived experience—it’s a kind of shortcut to authority, an absolute necessity for all effective writing—but it’s just as important to tailor one’s style to the needs of the project, whether it be fiction or memoir (or even, for that matter, poetry). We each of us harbor a multiplicity of voices—we “contain multitudes,” as Mr. Whitman put it—and we can also invent a new one when the work calls for it. It’s the writing itself that needs to be authentic, in other words; not the writer. Once I realized this, many years after college, I was suddenly free to begin, because I’d left my inhibitions behind. “Express yourself!” is the great rallying cry of all the arts—not just of fiction—but sometimes you have to escape yourself, just a little, to create something true. 


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