Are You Being True to Your Writing?

As a writer, this is perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT question you need to ask yourself.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post entitled, “The Novel Dilemma: Story No Longer Relevant … Now What?” Many of you commented with empathetic remarks or great advice (thank you!). And now, I’m happy to report that I found the answer to my own question.

I am re-working my original plot line, but keeping the same two characters. I arrived, however, at this final conclusion by asking myself the question:

Be YourselfAm I being true to my writing?

Really, the props in this epiphany go to my boyfriend, Oscar—who, over chicken wings at Native New Yorker one night, said to me (as I complained how I can’t write anything great), “You’re stuck on your book, because you’re not being true to your writing.”


Just think about that for a moment—being true to your writing. What does that mean? Oscar spelled it out for me, plain and simple: “Shari, you’re trying to write about a girl who grew up without a father. But you never lost your father. So you can’t really understand what your character is going through.”


He then went on. “But you know what it feels like to be Jewish and in a relationship with someone who harbors anti-Semitic feelings.”

Are you seeing where I’m going with this yet?

It suddenly dawned on me that I was trying to be TOO CREATIVE with my writing. I was trying to write about things that I thought were exotic or conflicted, but that I didn’t really understand. I was trying to be J.D. Salinger, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald … all at the same time.

But I just had to be Shari Lopatin. And write about what Shari knows … with some exaggeration.

Suddenly, the book won’t stop flowing from my fingertips. I wrote 10 pages in two days. And I’m going like a train on fire. In addition, those who have read my first few (new) chapters said the story is MUCH more intriguing, now. Who would’ve thought?

Have you been feeling stuck in your writing?

Maybe you should do as I did. Take a hard look at your plot lines, and your themes. Are you being true to yourself, to what you know, and what you understand?

9 responses to “Are You Being True to Your Writing?”

  1. Excellent post, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think both positions are right: you should write about yourself and also about others – and when you don’t know or don’t understand them, do the research! But in the end, it’s your OWN experience that opens the door to empathy and understanding others. And therefore writing about them. That means having a VARIED, broad experience…So I guess the first rule for a writer is: live your life to the hilt! Take time to consider it and think about it! Jot down your observations, they will flesh out your plot! Yes, that way, I’m convinced you will never know writer’s block…

  2. I can only write about things I know…my life’s experiences…but, the trick is…How do we make it so interesting that people just want to read…read…read what we write…Being knowledgeable and “True to your writing” as your friend says…He’s right on target!

    1. YES! I think you hit the nail on the head, Marilyn: “How do we make it so interesting that people just want to read…read…read what we write?” I’ve learned that it’s possible to take our experiences and STRETCH them into larger than life exaggerations, which can add so much more drama and tension to a story than I ever imagined!

  3. Great question, Shari! One we should all ask ourselves.

    1. Thanks Kate! Yes, I believe it’s a very important one we should all ask ourselves. 🙂

  4. Now this is what I call an “aha” moment! It’s so natural, and true, I’m guilty of it in my writing. I’ve been writing about other people’s lives thru turmoil and tragedy. But I certainly should write about the tragedy which befell me. From that place, I too can write – well, I’m pretty sure, pages! Thanks for sharing – hey wait, thank Oscar! 🙂 And of course you too – I only jest. This is but one terrific idea I’ve seen from you … so first, foremost and always – thank you!

    1. I will DEFINITELY thank Oscar for you. 🙂 And thank you for the kind words! I’d love to read a piece on the tragedy you mentioned. I’m sure you’d put a lot of heart into that piece. When you are true to your writing, I’m amazed how much easier the story and narrative simply flows!

      1. Since you asked, a small piece on a section after what happened! I keep on writing bits and pieces about the tragedy in the hopes I can eventually go from A to Z in book form with the high and low points transending just the awfulness. But I think this piece is rather a highlight … don’t you think?

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