Saturday, December 4, 2010


Technique is important. Learning craft is important. But it isn’t enough. Of course you have to learn what you can, and then you have to bury it in your subconscious and find a way to get to that place when you’re writing. But there are times when you should ignore technique, ignore your hard won techniques of craft, in favor of intuition.

Intuition is highly undervalued in our culture. We want to know the steps to accomplishing a goal. We want to reason our way to success. It just doesn’t work that way in writing. Prescriptions for success in writing are published all the time, so why don’t we have more great books? Successful people in many other fields, very smart people sometimes, who read these prescriptions for success, try writing fiction and are surprised and disappointed they don’t work. Why aren’t more of these people who are accomplished in other fields published? Why aren’t more of them writing spectacular fiction?

Because there is no formula for writing a good novel.


Writing is intuitive in many ways. You find what works for you through trial and error, study of craft, hard work, luck, but there is always an aspect of writing that remains mysterious. Sometimes you have to take chances. Sometimes you just have to trust your intuition.

Or so I think today.


Sherrie Petersen said...

Okay, this is a brilliant post. And I think that's why stories end up so much better after the first draft. Because you've been able to internalize it and spin the yarn more creatively than just laying out the facts.

Brian Yansky said...

Thanks, Solvang. You're too kind. That's a good point. The deeper you work yourself into that place where story comes from the more likely you are to make it more what it is.

Donna said...

Very true, Brian. What a great reminder to trust ourselves. After all, there were no books on craft or "process" when Twain, Austen, Dickens, Eliot and every other author of the classics penned their tales. Their greatest tool was intuition.

Great post!