Write Like You’re Someone — Or Something — Else

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write like you're someone else

Approaching your craft from a different artistic perspective can unlock new ideas and expand your creative toolkit.

In addition to my work as a writer, I’m an active musician, composer, and producer. I often find that my work in one discipline impacts my efforts in the other — vital lessons learned in music translate to my writing practice, and vice-versa.

In a recording session a while back, I encouraged the vocalist to sing, not like a singer, but like she were the drummer. The track we were working on was highly rhythmic and by having her focus her performance on the hits and flow of her vocal groove instead of the lyrical or melodic content, she was able to relax into the track and create the wonderful recording we needed.

The same principle can apply to writing. And whether you’re trying to pummel through writer’s block or just expand your creative toolkit, writing like you’re something other than a writer can be a fruitful and fun experiment.

Write like you’re painting

Sometimes when I’m writing, I view words as colors and try to create something that — to me, at least — has vivid textures, contrasts, lines, and composition. I don’t necessarily use words that are explicitly painterly or even visual in nature. But I do keep in mind that my goal as a creator is to make something that is striking or engaging, stark or colorful, at first read.

When you try writing this way, it’s important to be aware that your finished text may not seem painting-related to anyone but you — and that’s fine. The machinations that happen in the proverbial back room matter only in that they inspire you and leave you with a chunk of writing that makes you proud.

Write like you’re singing

Great singers can mend or break hearts and inspire love or warfare. Everything from pitch to volume to phrasing to tonality can impact how their performance hits the audience and how that audience might react. These are all things that can influence and inspire your writing as well.

As you write, imagine you’re a singer delivering lyrics to an eager audience. How do you choose words and sentences and structures that have a sense of melody while remaining silent? How can you make sure your text breathes like a human voice?

Clearly, there are no straightforward right or wrong answers here. As you experiment, just keep the vocalist perspective in mind and see what interesting text sings out as a result.

Write like you’re an athlete

Whether you’re sprinting towards a deadline or just eager to push your limits, approaching writing like an athlete can be an exciting and productive way forward.

This sort of approach does not mean you have to compete against other people (though that could be interesting). Rather, it could mean seeing if you can write a short story in half the time it normally takes you, pumping out a novel in record time NaNoWriMo style, or making your next poem twice as evocative and honest as the last.

As per the above examples, this is not about a specific process or set of rules. Rather, it’s about shifting your perspective so your creativity takes on a different energy and seeing what writing happens as a result.

Write like you’re building

At times, I see writing in a purely utilitarian way — I need to build something that won’t fall down.

Editing Guide bannerThis means I pay little attention to flowery language or fanciness for its own sake and focus on function instead. Do my sentences get my readers from start to finish effectively? Is there anything jagged or distracting in the way? Does the whole thing feel solid? Granted, writing like you’re building doesn’t mean your text has to be artless — you could be crafting a vast, virtual cathedral as opposed to a simple concrete box. But, at its core, whatever you write from the perspective of a builder has to be sound in form and structure.

As you experiment with your own writing from a builder’s point of view, focus on where you can lay the next words as bricks or what you can do to flesh out your metaphorical blueprint. Anything you can do to construct your work as something that will shelter, welcome, and endure will help you end up with a piece you can be proud of.

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Whether you find any of the above helpful or prefer to write as if you were a cat playing with a toy, a newborn baby trying to focus its eyes, or a slice of pumpkin pie doing whatever it is pumpkin pie does, why not embrace the idea of working from an imagined perspective dramatically different from your own. Each point of view you’re able to adopt can open new creative doors.

As a final note, don’t worry if this whole exercise sounds uncomfortable or even absurd. Does it feel silly trying to write as if you’re a fisherman trolling for salmon? Good. Honor the uncertainty and see where the experiment takes you.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This so resonates with me. Years ago, a screenplay I’d written about a woman artist, there was a painting she was working on – ‘The Road to Lullaby’ (also the name of the script) and when a friend asked to see the painting, she was dumbfounded when I told her it did not exist… ‘But I saw it!’, she replied.

    Susan Dukow
    Unmute Yourself, Girlfriend
    A Memoir Anthology on Book Baby

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