…Susan Toy outlines 10 Ways to Kill Your Writing…Part Two…


…I’m delighted to run a five-days consecutive series of posts from my terrific pal, Author, Susan Toy, for every author to enjoy and prob’ly learn lots from… here’s PART TWO :

10 Ways to Kill Your Writing

This 5-part article is from a talk I gave at the Calgary Public Library Writers’ Weekend Feb. 4, 2012.

Thanks to all of you for reading this series that is very kindly being hosted by the ONE, the ONLY, SEUMAS GALLACHER!

Part 2

  1. Copy others and don’t search for and develop your own voice

When I first began writing creatively, I had already enjoyed a long career in bookselling and as a sales rep for publishers. During that time, I got to meet everyone – and I mean everyone!

Gail Bowen was one author I worked with who became a friend and I wanted to be just like her – writing mysteries set in a specific locale.

Then I began taking writing classes and I’m embarrassed and ashamed to admit to you now that I actually said to Paul Quarrington, my mentor, that I had not read any of his books before beginning the course because I didn’t want his writing to influence the “voice” I was trying to develop.

I know! What an idiot!

Writers should always find an author whose writing they can aspire to emulate. Not mimic or imitate, but a standard of accomplishment and success to aim for.

I realize now how arrogant and insulting I must have sounded to Paul at that time. The only consolation I have is that I hear the same words from other beginning writers – that they need to develop a unique voice and cannot risk being influenced by such-and-such a great writer.

You should be so lucky to learn to write that well!

By the way, that unique voice I was so concerned about developing? It eventually came to me, and without my actually realizing it, because the more I wrote the more ME I put on the page. It was unconscious at the time, but I have been told by readers that they enjoy the voice I’ve created in my stories, so I’m pretty chuffed about that.

I never would have reached that point though if I hadn’t just kept writing, reading, revising, and learning my craft.

  1. Believe you are the first to have . . .
  2. a) written a particular story

There are very few new ideas in this business, but there are fresh approaches to those ideas. Shakespeare gave us the twelve great stories, the original themes, and everything else tends to be a variation of one of those themes. The key here is to be able to tell each story with a twist – from your own personal perspective.

b) made mistakes in your writing

I could include here, “Believe that you are the first to say stupid things,” as I mentioned I did with Paul Quarrington.

I bet if I could ask here for a raise of hands we’d see a lot of them in answer to a question whether anyone has ever made a mistake in their writing, especially early on in their careers.

It happens – get over it! But do make sure you learn from those mistakes.

  1. c) struggled to write

Again, asking for a raise of hands would probably garner a response from everyone reading this blog post.

  1. d) heard from readers that perhaps you should consider finding a day job . . . Or a new hobby.

Writing isn’t for everyone and definitely it’s not for the faint of heart. If you can’t take criticism then step away from the computer. If you can withstand the slings and arrows, then learn from them. Learn how to work with an editor. Find a writing instructor who can help you.

If you truly have a passion to write, and a story to tell, you will overcome those early critiques and learn to write so that readers believe this IS your day job!

And don’t kvetch about mistakes, difficulties, embarrassments, criticism, rejection, etc. We’ve all been there. We all know what you’re going through. So just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to writing!

  1. Think that “everyone” will want to read what you write

If you tell me this then I know you don’t have a clue who you are writing for. You must know your market. While every one of us hopes our books will sell a million copies and that Oprah or Mark Zuckerberg will invite us to be featured in their book clubs, the reality is your book will likely appeal to a rather small segment of the population. Know who this is you’re writing for, who your writing will appeal to, or at least have a good idea of your audience. This will really help your writing develop when you focus on a particular group.

Or take that even further … Aritha van Herk told us in a workshop that she always thinks of Alberto Manguel as being her perfect reader, and that she writes specifically with him in mind. Who would be your perfect reader, the one author you would write for and whose approval you seek?

Susan Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and is now a published author, publisher, and promoter of fellow authors and their books. Born and raised in Toronto, and after completing a degree in English Literature at Queen’s University in Kingston, she moved to Calgary in the late 70s and immediately found a job in a bookstore, beginning what has become a life’s career working with books and their authors.

Link for Island in the Clouds: https://islandeditions.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/where-in-the-world-can-you-purchase-island-in-the-clouds/

Link for That Last Summer:


…yeez can catch some of m’Lady, Susan’s WURK and links here :

Blog: http://islandeditions.wordpress.com/
And a blog dedicated to promoting other authors and their books
Reading Recommendations 










…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!… 







Filed under Blether, Scribbling & Stuff

31 responses to “…Susan Toy outlines 10 Ways to Kill Your Writing…Part Two…

  1. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    At whichever stage we think we are as a writer this series will provide you with food for thought..we can all get a little complacent….another very interesting series by Susan Toy hosted by Seumas Gallacher

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks again for hosting me, kind sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing and commented:
    Here’s Part Two of my series currently being hosted by Seumas Gallacher on his blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on themonsterunleashed and commented:
    Here is the second part of Susan Toy’s series ’10 ways to kill your writing’

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Very much enjoying this series! We would be lying if said that we hadnt thought atleast one of these at some time or another! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So, your last point really hit a nerve with me. I have a lot of blog followers and I’m building up on my (book) readers, but I have friends who say, “you should concentrate on your poetry, that’s where you’re really good…” or “why are you writing romantic suspense, you should write literary fiction.” Those comments can block me. I think I’ll take your suggestion and think of a reader who I know loves my stories just as I like to write them, and think of her as I continue on my third romantic suspense book. Much more helpful!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent, roughwighting! I’m so glad you’re able to make use of this point. I believe many of our friends and readers think they are being helpful, but they just don’t realize how much a writer can be blocked when we hear, “We really enjoyed this particular genre you wrote,” rather than letting us take a chance on trying something new or going off in a different direction altogether – thereby “trusting” that we will write something that is just as good and equally, if not more, interesting than our earlier work. So I say, Go for it! And please do let me know how that works for you. Best of luck!

      Liked by 2 people

    • ..it’s hitting all the correct buttons , m’Lady, Pamela 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  7. So true…We all live and learn

    Liked by 2 people

  8. LOVE the idea of finding a perfect reader and writing to that person! As with yesterday’s post, I’m putting this on my FB page and I’ll tweet it, too. Looking forward to tomorrow’s installment!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you for this advice you’re giving from your experience. I appreciate it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Live and learn–is there any other way. I am enjoying this series because it’s down-to-earth. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    AUTHORS – You can’t afford to miss this great series by Susan Toy 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Reblogged this on TheKingsKidChronicles and commented:
    Part Two of advice from an accomplished author who used to work for a publisher. She knows what writers experience and she knows how to help us not shoot ourselves in our feet. Originally posted on seumasgallacher.com.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Reblogged this on Tricia Drammeh and commented:
    Here’s Part Two of Susan Toy’s feature on Seumas Gallacher’s blog. “Ten Ways to Kill Your Writing” continues.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Reblogged this on The Writers' Workshop Blog and commented:
    Thank you Seumas and Susan for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Reblogged this on Maegan Provan, Author and commented:
    Susan Toy offers more insight in Part Two!


  16. Pingback: Friday Finds: Week 23 | Avid Reader

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