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The Invisible Writer

Updated: Mar 1

OK this is counter intuitive, but bear with. Writing is an ego driven activity. The sound of our own voice echoing back from the pages is intoxicating. And therein lays the trap. Them’s that should know better talk about developing a distinctive ‘author’s voice’. Like it is something rare and precious. Something to be discovered and thereafter cherished and nurtured. I’m with William Faulkner (by way of Stephen King). ‘Kill your darlings!’ If you hear your own voice in your writing something’s very wrong. Elmore Leonard said, ‘If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.' Brilliant advice from a master. The point of writing is to tell a story. Not to let everyone know how broad is your vocabulary or deep your research. Not to show off with breathtakingly imaginative analogies. Not to impress the reader with baroque little literary flourishes. Few things are as irritating as a writer who keeps popping up in a story saying: 'Look at me, look at me.' It’s not about you. You are the dross that needs to be hammered out of your writing. There should be no element of you, no opinion, no attitude, intruding between the story and the reader. Otherwise you are simply engaging in an act of onanism. You need to disappear. And, paradoxically, by becoming invisible, the greater will be your impact. And if you don’t understand this you need to stop writing until you do.

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