Writing Tip 7 is the most controversial and maybe the most powerful tip. So when you’re through arguing with it and you embrace it, you’ll find that you and your students are going to be able to write with much more freedom and clarity.
It works like this: it’s called the principle of separation.
Tip 7 says you are not what you write.
You are not what you write. What that means is that when you write something, it becomes something separate from yourself. To give you an example, I turned my Writing Course into a paperback book; it’s a couple hundred pages long. I wrote it. But this book is not me. Here I am, holding this book I wrote. When I put the book down, I’m still here. I’m still me. When I die, the book will still be here.
That’s the principle. You’re not what you write. It’s powerful to realize this because it allows you to work on your writing. It changes your thought-process, you’re no longer stuck thinking, “If I write something bad it means I’m bad,” or “If I write something wonderful I’m wonderful.” No. Sometimes you’re just lucky or unlucky. The fact is if you write something, it’s not you— it’s just something you wrote. It has its own life. You can treat it as an object of art; you can treat it as something to edit and improve. As a result, you can construct it, sculpt it, paint it, tweak how it sounds in really powerful ways. This tip is vital. You are not what you write.