By Patricia Gray, The Writer’s Center Instructor

Some of us write using a different genre based on what we have to say—an essay to clarify an idea, a poem to capture a moment. Others use the same genre because it suits whatever we have to say. How do you discover what your best mode is? There is no right way to write, but here are some ideas for accessing your talent.

  1. Definitely keep a journal. Write something in it every day, even if you have no time. The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron is famous for her “morning pages” idea. She suggests writing three pages each day as a way to get past whatever hurdle crops up that day. Write without stopping or editing or putting the pencil down, she advises. I agree, no one need read your journal but you, so you are free to be absolutely honest. In the first few paragraphs you’ll probably write the commonplace—things you already know—but if you keep writing for about three pages, what comes out can be wonderfully surprising. It might even be used in your next story or poem.
  2. Consider your favorite movies (books or poems) and why you like them. Was there a gut-wrenching conflict that got resolved in a totally unexpected way? If so, you might enjoy writing an action story with deep-felt emotions complicating the plot. Did you fall in love with the protagonist, the male or female lead? As an author, you could develop a character, the kind you, yourself, would like to meet and fall in love with (Hopefully, he won’t be Heathcliff). Was the movie full of exciting visual images? Poems often reply on creative visual images to give resonance to the lyric moment or the main metaphor.
  3. Have you noticed that in recounting true stories, the teller often builds interest or suspense the way a good novelist does? If you write about true events from your own life and master narrative timing in the process, you’ll have a very readable memoir.

To discover more about yourself and your style, consider taking The Hill Center workshop I’ll be teaching March 24 and 31, 2018. It’s called “Getting Started: Creative Writing” and meets on two Saturday afternoons from 1-4pm.