Often, when I am giving writing advice or instruction, I am, really, telling myself the things I need to be reminded of, just as much as the client or student needs to hear it. (It's good for both goose and gander.)
Often, when I am giving writing advice or instruction, I am, really, telling myself the things I need to be reminded of, just as much as the client or student needs to hear it. (It’s good for both goose and gander.)

Most of the things I tell writing instruction clients and students are the very things I need to hear.

Just yesterday, I started a new class called Iron Author. In introducing myself and the purposes of the class, I said (roughly) this:

When we are too close to a story, or we have a story that is very important to us, we can get stuck because we become bound up in the seriousness of getting that work just right. It’s a story we care so much about telling, that we don’t feel comfortable experimenting or trying something new, because of how serious the story is to us. This is a class to allow yourself latitude to play, a little. To experiment. To try something new that no one else ever has to see, and that you can throw away after our time together.

Boy, did I need that.

The writing I did during that class yesterday wasn’t great. And it may end up being something I can actually use, rather than a throw-away piece. But it was definitely different. Playful. Unrestrained by what I thought I had to do next or hindered by a lack of sustained interest.

I re-entered the world of a long-dormant story through a different door, with a different perspective, and I found a detail (a high-stakes detail, no less) that I either never knew before yesterday, or had lost to the labyrinth of the sub-conscious mind.

It was the kind of detail I couldn’t force to the surface with intentional effort, but it showed itself when I put pen to paper with no restraints, no pre-conceived notions.

Sometimes, we have to just write, without boundaries and restrictions, and see what it is the story—these characters—are trying to say.

I said those words yesterday, too. Because I needed to hear them.

What was some advice you’ve heard coming from your own mouth that was really directed as much toward yourself as to another person? Or, am I the only one who does this…?

Good for the Gander