You’re probably wondering why I’ve included a picture of  giant apple in this blog post. It’s all about being  different – finding the characteristics in your writing that are uniquely ‘you’.

The giant apple was feral, it grew on a self-sown tree in the neighbour’s paddock and the truth is, I was amazed at how this apple had flourished without water, without fertilisers…and without chemical sprays.

It seemed like the perfect metaphor for writing – I mean let’s face it, how often are we told by publishing professionals that they are looking for a unique idea, a unique voice.

Okay, so this apple is big, and that might not be your thing – but what is? Think about what it is about your writing that will make a reader recognise it as your work.

Some things to consider that help your writing stand out as being new, fresh, individual:

  • Your author voice
  • Your character’s voice
  • The Point of View you choose to write in
  • Format – doesn’t have to be straight narrative
  • The world you build for your story
  • Themes
  • The way you tell your story – let your personality shine through
  • Language you choose – don’t be afraid to experiment with how you use words

This apple also made me think about free writing – about letting yourself go. This apple just grew. Nobody told it how big it should be before it stopped grow, it just did its own thing.

To me there’s a message in that for us. Put submission guidelines, latest trends etc out of your head and do your own thing. Write the story you have to write – the one that means something to you.

I started writing Letters to Leonardo more than ten years before it was published. One of the reasons it took so long was that as a a very inexperienced writer, I allowed a mentor to talk me out of my story. She said that teens would not know who Leonardo da Vinci, that art was “old hat” in children’s books and that I should not write in first person.

Under her guidance, I ended up with a competent story called Space that lacked spark. It wasn’t until I broke free and went back to my original story (told in first person, with art themes and Leonardo Da Vinci) that it was published.

Don’t impose rules on your story before you’ve even started it. Allow the ideas to bloom naturally – to take you in unexpected directions.

Allow your natural writer’s voice to flourish. Surprise yourself as a writer, and chances are, you’ll surprise your reader.

I’d love to hear your stories about how following your instincts and reflecting your unique self in your writing led to publication.

Feel free to share in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)




  1. Boy, I needed to hear this, after being critiqued by a new, very young agent…who other than saying my story didn’t seem to be interesting enough to attract young readerrs….was very kind in how she approached me.

  2. Great post and Great Tips Dee! I especially love the advice: “Don’t impose rules on your story before you’ve even started it. Allow the ideas to bloom naturally – to take you in unexpected directions.”
    I have been in a lot of discussions lately about this particular aspect of writing. I think, you have to write the story you need to write. Some people will love it, some won’t. Some will understand, some won’t. If you write for a market or completely change your work due to someone’s individual opinion – you change your focus and your direction. It will also come through in your writing because it is not a change you feel but I change you were pressured into. Every great writer has been told at one point or another that their story won’t sell or won’t find a market. If they had listened to those opinions the literary world would be poorer and would be missing amazing stories. Advice is just that: advice. It is not fact. It is subjective. We work in a creative industry and as such there is no definitive right or wrong. Sometimes all you have is the confidence in your own story.

  3. Hi Dee,
    Thanks for this Blog. Just what I needed to hear, with four books under consideration with publishers.
    I agree with what you say about books with unusual themes, subject matter and techniques may taking longer to become published. But I know it will happen :))

  4. Hi Mary Lou,

    Try not to be disheartened. We as readers don’t all have the same taste in books, so I guess that’s why agents and publishers have such differing opinions on manuscripts.

    Good luck with your book.


  5. Thanks, Kim,

    I am such a strong believer in writing the story you need to write. And it’s true, some people will love it and some won’t. Sometimes I think we have to just keep our heads down and keep writing – and I agree, we definitely need to have confidence in our own story.

    Happy writing:)


  6. Hi Dee,
    Usual thoughtful post.
    Very interesting that when you followed your instinct that Leonardo got his spark back.
    I suppose our originality or unique take on the world is what we want to share.

  7. Hi
    Your points are so telling. It is very easy to slip into minding other people’s views, whilst crushing your own. You so want to be published that you are willing to sacrifice yourself. Which is totally wrong.

    BTW I hope you didn’t mean the sentence about chemicals and sprays, and it was just a metaphor.


  8. Thanks, Alison,

    I think you’re right. It’s that little piece of individuality – that piece that says ‘that’s me, that’s who I am”, that we want to share.

    Hope your writing is going well.


  9. Hi Lynne,

    Thanks for commenting. I know exactly what you mean about allowing other people’s views to affect your work in the hope that it will help you get it published.

    By chemical sprays I was referring to people who spray their apples trees with chemicals to keep the bugs away. But the metaphor works too:)

    Good luck with your writing.


  10. Great post Dee. For me, the voice of the story is what’s important. A fresh, original voice that feels and sounds true is what gets me into a story. And as a writer, it’s your job to find that voice within you and let it out onto the page.

  11. Thanks Maree,

    You make it sound easy LOL.

    I agree that voice is what makes a story original and hooks you in.

    Hope you’re feeling inspired with your writing.


  12. Love the analogy between the feral apple and letting our writing go where it wants to go. At the same time your experience with said “mentor” makes me so mad Dee. I’m sure many of us (not just writers) have encountered similar obstructions —auto spell doesn’t like “obstructors” but that’s what they are— on their path. As a journalist I’ve had no problems writing about other people and seeing those stories in print. That I was writing my own story was nixed by people who had influence on me at a much earlier age. The effect has been so great that it has taken me until now to share the premise with people such as you and other Word Warrior friends! I’m glad your message will be read by younger scribes and reluctant adults! xoxo Judith

  13. So true, after all, to be fresh and innovative, you have to do something htat no one else is doing… and there will alwyas be people who don’t ‘get’ it. Btw, I love your cover!

  14. Thanks, Judith,

    Lots of people have wonderful mentors and mentoring experiences so I don’t want to be seen to be denigrating those relationships or mentors in any way. My experience was just ‘my experience’. I learnt a lot from my mentor about having faith in your writing. You still have to take on board constructive feedback from others. But I have learned to tell the difference between objective criticism and someone who wants me to change my story to make it theirs.

    When you are a new writer starting out, having your story ideas shafted without any reasonable explanation can really dent your confidence can’t it?

    I’m so glad you are now able to be yourself with your writing. I know exactly how that feels and it’s wonderful. Of course we need to take notice of crit buddies, agents and publishers – anyone who makes comments out of a desire to genuinely improve our stories. But we have to be true to ourselves and our writing and not become the writer someone else wants us to be.

    So glad to have met you through WW and I love the sound of the story you are working on now.

    Happy writing:)


  15. Thanks, Girl Friday:)

    You’re right, there will always be people who don’t get our work, people who it doesn’t appeal to – it’s just like some people prefer strawberry ice cream to chocolate (don’t know why LOL) but that doesn’t stop ice cream manufacturers from producing both flavours.

    Thanks for your comment about my cover. I love it too:) Think the designer did an amazing job.


  16. Fabulous post, Dee. And great advice. I think self belief in your story is crucial, but, of course, as writers, we must seek critique and feedback. It’s just not always right for our story. It’s hard to know sometimes who’s right though. With my WIP I’m amazed, both through uni and my wonderful writing group, how different readers can love different bits. i.e. Ones that love detail, ones that skip description. Some will love the way you’ve done one aspect and others will not like it at all. Probably the reason books can get both positive and negative reviews. It’s such a subjective business.
    Sorry your mentorship experience didn’t bode well for LFL earlier, but I’m so glad you rewrote “your” story your way. LFL is a fantastic read and though a long, rick-racked road to get there, I’m sure well worth it to you now.
    It made me cry on the train, in front of peak hour commuters, and I didn’t even care.
    Cheers, Chris

  17. Thanks for sharing, Chris,

    Critiques can be so diverse can’t they? That’s why it’s important to sift through the advice and take on board what’s right for your story – which is something I learned from my mentorship.

    Thanks for your lovely comments about Letters to Leonardo, and I’m sorry I made you cry, but I’m glad that my book touched you so deeply.


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