How to Be a Better Writer: Something Old, Something New

How to Be a Better Writer: Something Old, Something New“In order to own the narrative, you have to keep reciting it. Remind yourself that your messages only feel old and stale to you. They are fresh and unique to each new person you speak to. And consistency gives you a context in case your messages would benefit from a tweak or a teardown.” — Marianne Griebler

Marianne Griebler makes her statement in relation to marketing and communications, but her words apply to writers of every stripe. Writers sometimes weary of their characters, worlds, and images. They want something new.

Nothing’s wrong with the desire. The “new” brings inspiration. It sends writers on explorations and leads to discoveries—a different image, a shift in subject matter, an alteration of form.

However, problems arise when writers hasten toward the new at the expense of the old. Life may require a complete break with the old; writing rarely works in the same manner. It builds. It takes little steps forward, using the old even as it stretches toward the new.

The old creates a foundation so that the writer can successfully move forward. The writer looks at previous writing and assesses it strengths and weaknesses. She or he uses the evaluation to springboard new content, be that a blog post or work of fiction.

In other instances, the old morphs as the writer views it from a different angle, after a life-altering event, or in the company of strangers. The old seems new even if it’s the exact-same thing as before. The writer discovers intricacies yet untapped. He or she realizes the old still has things to say.

Perhaps then, it’s wiser to hold onto something old and something new. The writer plants his or her foot in the two realms so that the writing retains its vigor and doesn’t fall back on stale patterns or trite language. The writer recalls the old, invites the new, and uses both elements to create works that invite people to come read for a while.

Image: marc falardeau (Creative Commons)