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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Substance Before Style - IWSG August 2020

It's IWSG Day. The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. A big thank you to August co-hosts: Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey.

August question - Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be." Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Once, in my writing infancy, I won a monthly contest in Writer’s Digest by entering a “recipe” for my future success in writing.  (“Stir together…multiple courses in journalism and editorial writing…whip into a froth with… flashing cursers, missed typo’s, overflowing wastebaskets…bake until published”). I wasn’t planning the form, but I like to cook and somehow the words made their way into my brain. I wrote the piece in under an hour, sent it and had almost forgotten about it when a phone call came announcing the $500 prize. 

In that case, the form found me.

But, as I ponder this question, I wonder whether the unidentified author of this quote is talking less about form and more about creativity. One of the best pieces of writing advice I ever received was early in my business career. I was attempting to write a memo and the VP of HR said to me, “Just get the words down. You can edit later.” Ever since, no matter what I'm writing, I try to do that. Case in point, that recipe above. That day, I simply sat down and bashed out what was in my head. Even now that little success is a reminder to me not to clog things up by considering style, marketability, or genre until after I get the words onto the page. Of course, good writing is good writing but it’s the story that sells first, right? 

What is the most creative piece, short story, novel, poem or what have you have ever written, or read?