On being different

In a recent blog post by a freelance writer with 300 articles and short stories published in national magazines including Reader's Digest, The Saturday Evening Post, Grit, Harper's, Troika, Yankee, Overdrive, Heartland USA, MAKE, and several boating and aviation publications, Phil gave a wonderful response to the old adage, be different, published in his blog, A Guy and His Blog (about writing)

Not only is Phil my grandfather, but he is also one of the smartest, most talented writers I know. I'm currently encouraging him to post his blog posts here on steemit. However, while he is a fellow "wannabe outlaw" (perfectly suited to be a future steemian), he is very busy from writing his award-winning books which have been endorsed by Lee Child, a number one NY Times best-selling author.

Therefore, I admittedly took it upon myself to share this specific blog post with you for two reasons.

  1. The following message will be very valuable to the community.
  2. I will be giving all steem dollars from this post directly to him so that he knows how great of a platform this could be for him.

So, without further ado...

"On being different" by Phil, my grandfather

For a time I taught creative writing at a community college, and I was struck by the attitudes some students had as they approached the craft.

1) Don't be different*

Somewhat understandably, many seemed to believe the goal is to be as different as possible in order to make their writing stand out above all the rest. So they would choose to write in first person present tense. Or employ every big word they knew in an attempt to impress the reader. Or stretch the flowery, arty use of metaphors to the breaking point. I had one student write a short-short story as one long paragraph, all in lower case.

But with only a little thought, it becomes clear that the goal of a writer, especially in the early stages of learning, is not to be different.

Quite the opposite. The shining goal is to be the same.

2) Be the same*

If you wanted to become a fine cabinetmaker, for example, you could do no better than to study how a long-time respected expert does it, and then try to copy every technique, every secret. Take advantage of all that accumulated knowledge and proven experience. Try to become that expert cabinetmaker.

3) Emulate those you admire*

If you want to be a great writer, you can do no better than try your best to emulate those great writers you admire and enjoy and who work within the genre you wish to write. Try to make your writing as good as theirs in every possible way. Take full advantage of their years of proven success. Blatantly copy their every technique. Try to be one of them.

4) Examples*

Many a great writer has done the same. Sherlock and sidekick Watson were one of the first super successful fiction teams. Think about how many writers have boldly copied that idea alone to help achieve success. Author John D. MacDonald invented Travis McGee and Meyer. Rex Stout had Nero Wolfe and sidekick Archie Godwin, Robert Crais has Elvis Cole and Pike. Janet Evanovich has Stephanie Plum and cop Joe Morelli. Emulating the master Arthur Conan Doyle sure worked out well for them and a host of others who’ve climbed to the literary summit.


I guarantee this approach of trying your best to follow the examples of the masters will prove to be a shortcut in your own struggle up the literary mountain. As you do this, your own unique voice and style will begin to emerge automatically, with no conscious effort, simply because you’re you.

And you’ll wind up being nicely different, anyway.


*Added for emphasis.

Lastly, I know the platform may or may not like re-posting content, but I don't care because I absolutely agree with this message and want to share it. Acquiring mentors and emulating what works is exactly how I have been successful in my personal and business life. However, Grampa sums it up perfectly.


Great insight. I hope he joins I would like to hear some salty seadog writing stories. Tell him steemit demands his talent! Too many chumps makin bookoo bucks around here...

Yes! Check out his blog. He wrote a great article on questioning Noah's Ark... It's just..perfect :)

Yes, I just saw his blog at glance... it's look good for newcomer or amateur writer... I will read his blog later. ;)