Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
May 24, 2023

I Was Right All Along - How to Write the Right Way

by Johnny B. Truant

one way street signs going different directions in a comic book style


This post came to my email. I thought it would lead to some fun discussion, so I asked if we could share it here at WITS. With Johnny's permission, here's some (hopefully bloodless) food for thought!

-- Lisa

And now over to Johnny:

The Setup

So here’s a little story about me.

When I wrote my first book, I had no idea what I was doing. I just kind of followed my nose and wrote whatever struck me, but that didn’t get me anywhere productive. For a long time, that first book was just me telling the antics of individual characters, not paying much attention to making it all connect. It wasn’t a story, in other words. It was just a lot of stuff that happened.

I kept at it, though, and soon enough I figured out that stories needed a compass from the beginning. For years, variations on that basic plan refined themselves: I’d start with a beginning (crazy, I know), then STILL would follow my nose … but now I’d keep asking myself throughout the draft how I could move the larger plot forward. That’s how the Fat Vampire books were written, how Unicorn Western was written, how The Beam was written, and a whole lot more. Even when I was co-writing with my constant partner Sean Platt who kept me on the rails, I never really knew where the story would end up. Still, unlike that first book, I finally at least had an idea where it was going.

Learning How to Write

Fast forward almost ten years. Now I’ve got like a hundred books under my belt, writing at a pace of around 1.5 million words (1.5x the full Harry Potter series) every year. You write 15 million words and you figure some things out, such as “what works for you.” So yeah. By then, the wheels were greased. I knew how to tell stories, and because of it I never cared when I got stuck. I knew, from plentiful experience, that the answer was there somewhere … and every single time I hit a wall in a story, the answer absolutely was.

But after years of teaching writing and podcasting about writing and writing books about writing and hosting live events of all sizes for writers, I started to get a lot of other people’s advice and processes in my head. I started paying attention to story structure, because that’s what a lot of people did. I started to think in three acts, knowing exactly where the First, Second, and Third Act needed to start and finish. I heard over and over again about story devices and themes and who knows what else. I’d never cared or thought about those things before. My stories had them, but they had them accidentally. I could dissect my books after the fact and find all that good stuff in them, but it came from my gut, not planning.

Doing it Right

After hearing all that advice, though, I began trying to think about a lot of my previously-from-the-gut stuff in advance. I wanted to write better and better books, and that meant growing as a creator. Growth presupposes change. I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’d been doing, could I? No. I needed to keep experimenting, keep changing things up, keep trying new things to get better.

That’s what all the conventional wisdom said, anyway. The way I used to write, I’d decided, was wrong. I just didn’t know better. Moving forward, I started to think about genre — about not mixing genres together, because that was wrong. Certainly I shouldn’t write in several different genres; that right there was especially wrong. I thought about point-of-view and what was “allowed” and “not allowed,” because I’d been doing some of that wrong, too. I shouldn’t meander in my writing: focus was better and meandering was (again) wrong. I needed to think about theme, to make sure theme got in there ahead of time. I hadn’t been doing that, or hitting the proper act markers, or a dozen other things … and all of that, too, was wrong.

Yeah. Well. That was 2020, 2021, and 2022, and most of what I published during those years were books that’d been previously written. The few books I managed to actually write in those years were laborious and tedious. In the end, I think I cleaned those projects up so that by the time they hit the bookstores, they were pretty good … but they were also very difficult. Very not-fun. Very trying-so-hard. All of my writing flow was gone. The FUN was gone. I wrote far, FAR fewer words in those years, and very little of it was enjoyable.

Changing Things Up

I got sick of it. Something had to change.

And so, a few months before 2023 began, Sean convinced me to forget all I’d learned. To just say FUCK IT to the “right” way of doing things and instead let my freak flag fly like I used to. It took some practice to unlearn all the “proper” things I’d learned about writing, and instead write from the gut like I used to, but now I’m right back in my doing-it-wrong, totally-inappropriate groove. And I’m happy to report a few things to you:

The “wrong” way I write is a lot easier and creates much better stories in the end.

The incorrect, seat-of-my-pants, genre-ignoring, convention-ignoring way I used to write is also a hell of a lot more FUN.

Words flow. FAST. I’m currently writing two books at once, putting in more words each day on each of them than most “prolific” writers get on just one project. That was impossible during my “correct” years.

And most importantly, “wrong” feels so right to me. The stories unfold as if they’re already there and I’m just discovering them. The magic is back. Good stuff happens.

Hard Learned Lesson

So, my friends, I’m happy to report that Johnny is back and as incorrect as ever. I’m happy to report that although a lot of well-intentioned learning came my way throughout the course of my career, so far it seems that I was originally right all along.

Maybe the way I work won’t sell as many books as doing it right. Maybe my books are weird, or too long, or refuse too ardently to fit inside a single genre or understandable box. I don’t really care about those things. My books are me, and that’s all that I’ve decided ultimately matters.

And so I’ll leave you with a lesson I learned the hard way: If you happen to be a creator like I am, I’d like to encourage you to learn what you can … but in the end to ultimately trust your gut. It’s smarter than you know.

The Discussion

What do you think? Have you struggled to write "correctly?" What has your experience with writing correctness been? How do you feel about trusting your gut in writing?

-- Lisa Norman

* * * * * *

Johnny B Truant

About Johnny

Johnny writes fun, page-turning, layered, and most of all “inquisitive” fiction — stories told in many genres and ways, united by a curiosity about life’s biggest questions.

Whether the tale itself is about invading aliens, overweight vampires, or ordinary people in mindbending situations, Johnny’s stories always live on two levels. The first is the surface, where vivid characters come to life to undertake the most extraordinary adventures. The second level, however, is deeper: diving into the corners of reality itself, or just the shadowland of a fractured mind.

If you like Christopher Nolan’s movies or Michael Crichton’s books, you’ll be right at home in the Truantverse.

Originally from Ohio, Johnny and his family now live in Austin, Texas, where he’s finally surrounded by creative types as weird as he is.

Learn more about Johnny at his website johnnybtruant.com. And check out the first book in the Fat Vampire series, now a TV series on SYFY: Reginald The Vampire.

Top Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

60 comments on “I Was Right All Along - How to Write the Right Way”

  1. I LOVE this, Lisa. Often as I was finalizing my memoir, after I'd get a suggestion from my critique group or an editor about the "correct" way to write a sentence or structure a paragraph, I'd flip through my favorite best-selling memoirs and find the "wrong" way splashed across every page. I think rules are fine if used in moderation. And if writing is fun like it is for Johnny, he's obviously doing it RIGHT.

    1. It's a little bit of a cliche, but I actually like the advice of "know the rules before you break them" quite a bit. There are two ways to break rules: by accident, out of ignorance ... or on purpose, with full knowledge (and therefore willing and consciously defiance of) the "correct" way.

  2. The longer I write, the more seat-of-the-pants I become and the more fun writing becomes. However, writing an outline can be a similar experience, since that becomes their first draft.

  3. As we say in Texas, keep Austin weird! I agree that too many writing instructors would have one analyzing one's work until all the life, soul, and fun is sucked out of the writing process. Writing instruction has its place, but eventually we must spread our wings and develop our own plan for what works best for us. Unless one is writing for academia or trying for one of the "SERIOUS AWARDS," writing to entertain the reader seems the best goal. Readers know an entertaining story when they read it. They want an enticing beginning, a middle that builds at the right pace, and a satisfying conclusion. Most readers do not analyze the structure of an entertaining story to ferret out whether the author followed the "correct" formula. At least, this has been my experience. I generally describe myself as a plotter with "pantser" tendencies. I have my beginning, middle, ending, and major events in mind before I start. The rest of the story fills itself in as I go. Stay weird, my friends! Thank you, Lisa, for bringing this post to us.

    1. Thanks for reading, Linda! I have a friend who theorizes that we all change to plantsers as we develop over time. It is an interesting theory and one I'm always looking for signs of.

    2. I recently heard an interview with mega-amazing producer Rick Rubin wherein he said that during the discovery phase, he pays no attention whatsoever to what he thinks will resonate with the public. He said over and over that he just supports and helps create the things HE wants in the world that don't yet exist. I think that's a really great way to look at the balance of creativity. (And then, if you expect any popularity, maybe bring "what the public wants" back in a little bit at the end if you're doing anything too far off the beaten path).

  4. This is awesome! So many "experts" to follow with their own take. All the voices sometimes block our flow and stall us. We need to trust ourselves more.

  5. There's a lot to be said for this because I live on both sides of the line all the time. I'm a fast drafter, so once I have all I need in place, I just go. I fly along having fun. I'm also prolific. Stories pour out and it requires me and the three bears to shove them back into the closet before I'm overwhelmed.

    Thing is, then I start going over those drafted stories. My initial changes are always needed, making major cuts and inserting a chapter here and there. After that, though, I start thinking about the rules. You see, I have the rules written down and they represent all my anxieties and fears. I worry over this, I worry over that. I tweak and hone and generally have no fun while making minor changes.

    In the end? It's the same story I had, but each line adheres to each rule and an English teacher would give me a thumbs-up. Or does it? The worries return. I set to work again and the cycle repeats, the stories pile up, I grow frustrated, and I wonder if maybe I should just give up. Then, I wonder what happened to the fun?

    1. Oh, Christina, I feel you so much on this! The joy of the fast draft, seeing the story come together... And then the struggle to finish it and craft it into something we can call done! The second guessing and fighting to finish! And the pile of drafts waiting for love. We must find a way through. It feels to me that there should be a way to polish quickly! But I haven't found that solution yet. Actively fighting towards it, though!

      May you find the answers!

    2. I walk that line too, Christina. I actually create a pretty clean first draft, but I always clean things up, pare things back, and most of all ARTICULATE BETTER (my neurotic speciality) in the later drafts. So it's not literally that I think I'm doing things exactly right from the start -- more that I know when to open up the right brain and when to turn on the left.

      I think there's also a balance. I originally wrote this and sent it out to an audience mostly of readers, though there were of course some writers in there, like Lisa. Because of how and where I was writing, I wrote it in cavalier fashion, disregarding some of the caveats I'd have added if I was writing directly to writers from the start. I hope it goes without saying that you have to learn to trust yourself over time, and that there are definitely times -- particularly at the beginning -- where maybe we SHOULD listen to the rules a little. It's all about the gut!

  6. This was on point for me so much! Gaining so much writing knowledge has certainly made me worry if I'm doing it right. Now I'm just going to tell my stories.

    1. Jeri, I loved the article so much, I just had to get it more exposure to the hard core writing community of WITS. I think it is encouraging and affirming.

    2. I love this response! Right or wrong, just write. I think the worst thing a person can do is become paralyzed and shut down entirely.

      Remember: In the end, you're just choosing which audience you appeal to. Some audiences will want certain rules followed and others won't. You can always choose to write for an audience that might not be large but loves what you're doing in the way you're doing it. If you're going to write no matter what, I say write your way.

  7. Hi Johnny,

    Thanks for the reminder and cautionary tale about tightening up one's writing process. It can come with a cost.

    My current project is a grind and one that I have to get out during the next 2 weeks. I can relate to clawling for each paragraph. I'm eagerly awaiting the time I can unleash-my-inner-pantser once again.

    Thanks for sharing your journey-story at WITS.


    1. You're so welcome. I've definitely had those days of grinding, and I know how unfun (yes, I just made up a word) they can be. Knowing it's temporary and that you can let it all hang out on the next one can be a real comfort!

    1. The trick is to learn how to turn off that overthinking. I haven't figured that out yet!

    2. Haha - yeah, I didn't even get to the phenomenon of overthinking, which I do as well. It's a bit sideways from what I was describing in the post, but just as deadly (and insidious) for me!

  8. Bullock paddies, but I’m happy for you.

    I’m sure you’ve assimilated and now use more key craft skills than you let on. So, this ‘advice’ will do more harm than good for writers aspiring to become serious, professional, and successful authors.

    Everyone has to find their own path to writing-what works for them. But everyone, too, has to navigate through the many filters that separate stories with potential from stories people will want to read.

    I’m more inclined to believe you don’t yourself understand the real reasons for the success you cite, so are handing out bad advice.

    Sorry if I come across as a downer, but think this advice only feeds into the doomed hopes of wannabe writers, who think learning the craft is too hard and can’t see to fix the weaknesses in their own work. I see this leading more to heartache, than enlightenment.

    My own first serious story effort was weak, at best. Only after reading articles and joining local critique groups did I learn the finer points of the craft and rewrite in into a professional and compelling finished story (of which I’m now proud). So, I strongly believe in theat process. One doesn’t have to give up their originality to produce professional work.

    1. Respectfully, J. H., I'd like to suggest that the process can be different for different authors.

      One of the reasons that I asked Johnny to allow us to share this article is that I have been teaching and working with writers for decades.

      I remember one of my college creative writing classes. We'd spent years learning the rules. Now in this advanced class, the teacher explained that true creative writing often involved breaking the rules and knowing when to do so.

      In too many circles, I see that creativity squelched. I've seen brilliant stories destroyed because someone insisted on pushing the rules.

      Learning the rules made you a better writer. Excellent. But I'd like you to consider the possibility that these same rules can also cause harm, and blindly following rules belies the underlying understanding of why they are there and when to break them.

      There is a prevalence in the modern writing community to push rules that are actually just someone's monetization of a platform. They aren't true rules at all.

      So I'd like you to consider that there are indeed some rules that cause more harm than good, and that by teaching creatives to understand this and respect their individual process, we are encouraging the professionalism you value.

      1. My own (neglected) website is named rulestobebroken.com , so I’m not unfamiliar with the need to break rules now and then… not just in writing, but in life. Most critique groups and articles written on writing promote the best rules and practices, but then suggest they may be taken with a grain of salt-i.e., using individual judgment is okay.

        Nevertheless, it is a disadvantage to any hopeful writer, if they do not at least know the rules. Break them out of conscious choice, not because of blind ignorance. After all is said, such rules or practices originally came into being because the work.

        1. I think we're actually in agreement here, with only one thing I'd add. Yes, I agree that many rules come into being because they work. There are classic writing rules, ones that have huge value. But there are also a string of more modern rules that do not have true value for anyone other than the individual teaching them.

          As Johnny has said, this article is a little bit out of context, but we're much more focused on the rules that harm writers rather than those that strengthen writing.

          I've seen too many writers struggling under a burden of "rules" that didn't exist 50 years ago, and that in many cases do little other than intimidate writers.

          1. Lisa-Just curious. Can you provide an example or two of new rules that are counterproductive?

            There are a couple of ‘rules’ I’m not particularly religious over. Deep description of settings, for one. While I often envy the remarkable prose of some others, I don’t paint scenes too quickly in my own work, unless there is something remarkable I want to share (FYG-I write speculative SciFi).

            I’m also a little light on adding “beats” to help define my characters. However, I confess, this is more a struggle of skill than intent. Nevertheless, I think my minimalist efforts still work.

            1. Jerold - I'm sure your descriptions DO work, because it sounds like you've developed a sense of what is actually needed in your genre and for your stories.

              I hesitate to give too many examples because what irks me may be a life saver for someone else. But to give examples of things I've seen sidetrack writers... Beats is definitely one of them. I've seen an author with a beautiful story decide that because it didn't follow a particular guru's beats formula that it needed to be rewritten. This was destructive because it damaged the flow of the novel. (A friend who is studying story structure recently came to me with no fewer than 5 different sets of "rules" for the beats in a story, none of which matched.)

              Word counts are another one. Yes, some authors need to learn to write tighter, but writers like Tolkein would not exist if those rules were applied. There are also some POV rules that I've seen derail people. Only one POV per novel, for example, doesn't work for all novels.

              Here's a story I heard that cracked me up recently. An author had been told that you should never have more than 3 significant characters in a novel. They were writing a murder mystery. Therefore the 3 characters were: the victim, the detective, and the villain. I'm betting you can see the problems with this method as far as suspense for the readers!

              In my opinion, these should be presented as guidelines rather than rules, and I think that's the heart of what we're dealing with here.

              You've got good points about how these guidelines can help new writers to write better. The trick is that they can also hamper writers who are developing a level of innate skill and sense of story. Too many guidelines presented as rules can make them question their developing skills rather than leaning into them. As writers, we tend to second-guess ourselves. If someone tells us we're doing it wrong, we'll likely believe them and try to do it "right" even when we see it damaging our productivity or the story. We tend to think "there's something wrong with me" rather than, "this guideline doesn't fit this story or my process."

              And that was why I asked Johnny to let me share his very personal article on WITS. Because seeing that even a productive, successful author experiences this can be helpful for others as they learn to trust their instincts.

    2. I actually don't entirely disagree with you. As I mentioned in another comment here, I originally wrote this message in an email sent to my list, to people who already know who I am and how I think and how I do. I would probably have couched some things differently for a more general audience.

      Obviously there are rules that serve more than harm. My hope was that people could see the difference. I was speaking from my own experience as an established author who's tried it both ways. Never did I say, "Start out, ignore everyone, and just do it your way." The intent was to point out that just as there are rules that will help you out (which everyone knows is true, because there's no shortage of folks pointing out those rules), there are also rules that can set you backward. Nobody talks about those rules, but they can trip you up just the same.

      1. I love that there is the distinction and that we have the opportunity to point that out. And I'm very grateful for you being willing to let us share your post with our readers!

  9. How wonderful and refreshing to hear someone who throws the rules out of the window.
    I'm fed up of hearing about the inciting incident; the dark heart of the soul (or whatever they call it); show, don't tell; the three act structure; and especially theme. Why can't we simply write a story without it having to have a message?
    I also write in this way, although I usually know the end.
    I have a duo that a reviewer said had messages. When I read the review, I thought, 'What messages?' I just wrote what I hope is a good story.

    1. For some authors, much of this is intuitive. When we look back at the masters, I'm fairly certain many of the great historical authors - the ones who the structures are based on analysis of their work - I doubt they were sitting there thinking about the structure. They were telling powerful stories based on strong archetypes.

      Of course there are just bad writers out there, and ones who need that guidance to make their stories as powerful as they can be. The trick is to know when to follow the rules and when not to!

    2. In my own writing, I find that messages and themes tend to show up organically anyway. I tend to discover most of them as I go, then really pull them out on subsequent drafts.

      1. I’ve found this to be true, myself. It emerged unexpectedly in my first novel. It has become the dominant theme in the sequels.

        I am basically a pantser at heart. However, the more complex the plot, the more important planning and plotting are to the process. The allow you to orchestrate your story with the least flaws.

  10. I think you have to find what works for you, and as long as it's marketable, then you're good. Nothing wrong with just writing for yourself, but that's not the goal for most of us.

  11. It's about time some of the pantser writers spoke up and said, "hey, I am not wrong." If we are doing everything right, but we are hating ourselves and our work as we write, then what is the point of being a writer? Where is the creativity and the fun? When did writing get so technical to where we have become story programmers instead of authors?

    1. That's something you don't hear too often, but that's totally valid. Creative work should be fun and feel good to work on at least some of the time!




    Best article I have read, anywhere, in the last 5 years.


    Johnny, I've bought some of your books over the years, and enjoyed them. I've also been one of the writers who listened to your writing podcast and bought "Write. Publish. Repeat." following much of what was discussed in them. Still have "Write. Publish. Repeat." on my office bookshelf, long after many others have hit the trash can.

    I can fully relate to what you discovered for yourself, in doing what works for you. To hell with the 'norms' of writing. If you know how to tell a story, and people like the stories, the only judges you need worry about are those who pay the money to buy what you create.

    Besides...if you sell less books, write more of them, right?

    My own challenges revolve around killing the 'compromise' habit I've developed. I want to unleash the full gambit of insanity still bubbling in the recesses of my mind. To give myself permission to be what I know I can be, and not what others think I should be.

    Your process and discovery crosses over into the marketing arena against the 'pay to play' norm of the day. I love that. Is there a better and 'crazy' way to make sales that works? YES! How about word of mouth and building relationships through a unique voice, rather than dealing with those always buying the slot in front of you because they have deeper pockets?

    As for me, there's even an artist aspect here -- where I'm seeing so many using AI (which I'm not against, even as a professional illustrator)-- prompting me to pull back from color to black and white inked and pencil sketch artwork to stand out.

    I appreciate this article more than you know.

    Thank you, Johnny.

    1. Oh man, so much here!

      First of all, this: "If you know how to tell a story, and people like the stories, the only judges you need worry about are those who pay the money to buy what you create."

      100 PERCENT YES! This here balances out my overall argument by providing a caveat. Others have suggested that breaking the rules only works in some cases because those rules are there for a reason -- and that for some folks, doing things their own way will result in a lesser result than following all the rules would. I think that's true, but once your caveat is in place, that issue has already been addressed. If you have enough fans and buyers to satisfy your goals, you CAN make the rules, period. The only reason you might NOT want to make your own rules is if you aren't getting the results you want. (Cormac McCarthy doesn't even believe in proper capitalization or punctuation. But who cares, because he's done okay for himself.)

      As to the "compromise" thing you mentioned, that's affected me too if I'm understanding you right. I didn't specifically mention it in this post, but one of the other things I started doing around the same time as the rest was to lean in hard to who I truly am, with all my eccentricities. So for example, I'm always making ridiculous pop culture references from the '80s and '90s in my books because I think they're funny, even though some people will have no clue what I'm talking about. Who cares? It's a Truant book, and Truant books contain that stuff. Readers who don't appreciate it are not my ideal readers.

      Lastly, the artist comment at the end is spot on. I've felt more and more like an artist in recent years than even a storyteller ... certainly more than something lame like a "content producer." Yes, I'm making a commercial product, but it's art, too. And the idea of standing out by going BACKWARDS (in many people's opinion) in order to stand out as new and refreshing is amazing.

      1. Johnny, oh Johnny, I'm pretty sure if we met, we'd be fast friends.

        Then again, I'm a 54 year old cartoonist with a darling wife, 13 kids (children, not goats) and 23 grandchildren, with double that in 'step' grandkids...

        What I'm saying, is that I have a built in fan base if nothing else (wink).

        You made my day with that reply. Just came in from a nice coffee, watching the sun arise over the mountains, hoping the cows in the field will align properly so my internet works, and I find your reply.

        First this:
        "As to the "compromise" thing you mentioned, that's affected me too if I'm understanding you right. I didn't specifically mention it in this post, but one of the other things I started doing around the same time as the rest was to lean in hard to who I truly am, with all my eccentricities.

        So for example, I'm always making ridiculous pop culture references from the '80s and '90s in my books because I think they're funny, even though some people will have no clue what I'm talking about. Who cares? It's a Truant book, and Truant books contain that stuff.

        Readers who don't appreciate it are not my ideal readers."

        For me, I had some loud voices (few, but loud) against my use of onomatopoeias, italics and bold use throughout the books. But I came form a comic book background, and the TEENS who read my books, commented that they loved them. Guess how I screwed up...

        I listened to the wrong people.

        When you doubt if you wrote your main character wrong, LISTEN to the 20+ year old girls who leave reviews like, "I want to DATE Wendell. Why can't guys be like him?"

        Instead, I listened to the malcontents and Nay-Sayers and tweaked what worked.

        For those reading these comments, I'd like to share this -- and Johnny -- tell me if you've experienced this as you were learning your craft as a writer:

        By the time I had six novels, a friend of mine, who is the Principle of a private school, volunteered to edit my books for me. Editing papers is a passion of his, and his boys were fans of my books. My vocabulary isn't the greatest (but it's growing) and mt spelling/grammar is horrific on most days...but I focus on the story first.

        I gave him a set of the novels and told him to mark them up. When he returned them a month or so later, he said "It's crazy, Jaime, you have errors on almost every other page in some way."

        It hot me pretty hard, as I want to improve my skills, but I'd come to a point that even after hiring editing services, mistakes were still found. So I did the best I could, then published.

        "Can I ask you two questions?"

        "Sure," he replied.

        "Did my mistakes pull you out of the story at any given point?"

        He thought about it and smirked, "Actually, no. It was a great read."

        That made me smile and I took a deep breath. "Did you enjoy the story?"

        He smiled wide. "Loved it."

        I reached out and shook his hand. "Then I'm good for now. I'll make the changes over time."

        The STORY has always been my obsession. Trying to make sure I tell as good a story as I can, then the rest -- the proper mechanics -- I learn as I go. I'm reading books, I'm studying how to edit myself, and I've purchased software to help correct my bad habits before stories go to print.

        But what kills me, and why I trashed 18 years of published works in one fell swoop, is I stopped listening to that voice from my gut that knew what to write. When I sold under 24,000 copies of my first book, I got discouraged and tried to write what I 'thought' people would want...and as the books went on, I sold less and less.

        Would I have sold the same or more if I'd, as you so perfectly put it, Johnny, "leaned in hard to who I truly am, with all my eccentricities"??

        If I look back at all the emails I received, all the teen fans I gained, all the librarians who reached out and told me kids were literally fighting over and STEALING my books, I'd guess 'most likely'.

        So Johnny, what hit my soul from your article here, and your reply, is:

        'Be YOU, and whatever the 'norm' is, run the hell away in the opposite direction when it comes to creative creation and writing. Because the more you conform, you become invisible in a sea of lemmings.'

        Probably not your words, but I get to interpret through my cartoonist filter, and that's what I got.

        I'm at a critical point in my writing journey right now. As in this week. Today. So thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with me, Johnny.

        A brand new light flashed into view yesterday, at the end of my dark tunnel.

        ...and I swear it was you, yelling, "You're going the wrong way, dude -- you were right all along! The party is THIS WAY!"

        1. When I hear people worrying about AI taking over, I think of THIS discussion. This is the type of writing I don't think AI will ever be able to emulate, and I think it is what readers love and value.

          Because as much as y'all are just being yourselves, you're also seeing your readers in unique and valuable ways.

          1. Exactly, Lisa.

            Here's a point to put that argument (or fear) to rest:

            AI can only function through 'rules'.

            Those rules are taught to it, by humans. Doesn't matter which humans.

            The critical point in this discussion is that the way Johnny and I are writing allows us to break, change, and literally forgo any and all rules IF WE CHOOSE, at any given time.

            ...exactly what an AI cannot do.

            At least not yet, LOL.

            In the end, we, as writers, can craft creative specifics in original ways a machine never will, IMO.

            Id' be interested in hearing what your views are on this, Johnny?

            1. And that is where the true art comes in. It isn't just breaking rules because they are inconvenient or not understood. It is breaking them with intention and purpose to enhance the overall experience for our readers. There's a level of empathy and connection there that I doubt can be programmed or even learned.

                  1. Live in the comments, Johnny. I built 30,000 monthly visitors for my blog by living in the comments sections. That's where the relationships are made, and where you will find your advocates.

                    It's where you make new friends.

                    Many say leaving comments are a waste of time.

                    But that's what unpopular people always say.


  13. This is so true! I used to write for my own entertainment, with no thought of publishing, and it was fun. Since I started writing with the intention to publish, I feel like I've been hamstrung by all the writing 'rules' I've read online, and it's been like pulling teeth.

    1. I'd posit that you were not "right all along." That you've been learning all along, whether you think your original was organically correct or not. What is organic is the learning process – whether self-learning (where you don't credit lessons you really picked up from elsewhere) or reading (books, articles, posts, etc.) lessons on how to develop and refine your craftsmanship.

      I think the only difference you've discovered is that when you intentionally learned, you just started thinking about it too hard. Ultimately, these new lessons always take over the way you write anyhow. Once learned, they cannot be unlearned. You've assimilated them enough that you no longer overthink them.

      So, you've benefitted from them anyhow – whether you'd like to think you've happily gone back to your old ways or not (but the real answer is "not").

      The slowest and least efficient way to learn how to write professionally is to ignore studying the craft and benefitting from the experiences of others. The second least efficient way is to fail at seeking continuous feedback on your work from other writers.

      Talent, while wonderful and helpful, doesn't matter, if you don't learn the craft. You may have wonderful prose, but stories that bore. You may have wonderful stories, that nobody can get into and read. But if you want to be professional and successful, ultimately you need to learn the craft. Slower and inefficiently or faster and effectively is up to you.

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