Right now, I’m struggling with the bane of my existence — details.  One of my strengths is that I’m a big picture thinker, but details are very hard for me to work with.  I have to significantly shift how I think to get even specifics into the story, and it’s hard. My only choice is to work at it.  It’s possible it may never be easy for me to do details, though if I work at it, I can come up with techniques that may help.

I’m noting all this because I’ve seen a disturbing trend on writing message boards.  It starts out with a writer trying to do something that’s hard, and he’s posting a question about it.  Omniscient viewpoint (which I write in) is one of those things that falls under this category.  Instead of suggesting how to do the technique correctly, the writers instead say;

“Most writers get it wrong.”


“It’s hard to do.”

And both are followed an admonishment of:

“Don’t try it.”

What’s with this “It’s hard — don’t try it” stuff?!

Maybe it’s because I was a soldier, but I find this appalling advice.  Writers are telling other writers not to try to improve because something may be challenging.  When I was in the army, our squad leader would tell us to go do something.  He expected us to “accomplish the mission,” not come back and say, “It’s too hard, Sergeant.  We can’t do it.”  If there was a problem, we could do whatever we needed to solve it, like ask someone for help.

Granted, sometimes this resulted in strange things, and in some cases, theft.  Like when the Marines got a forklift and stole our latrine …

Returning to writing land — a lot of things in writing can be hard.  Getting details into the story is very hard for me.  Maybe I’ll get it wrong and have to fix it.  But why would that be a reason not to try? Saying, “Don’t try it” merely because it’s hard or because people often get it wrong is encouraging writers to fail by telling them to not even try.  Determination is what makes for a writer to stay in the long run.

Wander on into the comments and tell us about a project where you ran into hard spots and how you solved them.

About the author

Linda Maye Adams Linda Adams has been published in Enchanted Spark and Fabula Argentea and has a non-fiction story in the upcoming Red, White, and True from the University of Nebraska Press. She is a female war veteran from the first Persian Gulf War, and least likely to have been in the army.