Most writing advice that I’ve put to good use has had to be of the kind that made me say, “Yeah I can see myself doing that.”

One such piece of writing advice that was delightful for me: Make a list of five writers that you enjoy reading. Read their books again. What is it about their writing style that appeals? Pluck those concepts from their writing. See if and where it fits in your writing.

Yeah, I can do that.


I’ve always loved to read. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, David Sedaris’s Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Bailey White’s Momma Makes Up Her Mind, and Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy.

And if I reached back far enough, I remember meeting James Thurber during a year of at home reading when I had a severe case of mononucleosis and read just about every book on my family bookshelves. His writing was funny, but serious, and always about people interacting or not interacting with each other. He was funny without being mean. He was observant and clever.

Finally there was Erma Bombeck. Not earth shattering stories, but whimsy from a world I grew up in and one that has morphed into what I think is a pretty with it older middle age, and still true stuff. Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel belongs to no one? Never lend your car to someone to whom you have given birth.


So, I want to write everyday stories with gems like Erma Bombeck’s, which have readers nodding their heads in recognition, or smiling, or getting teary-eyed or laughing out loud because of the truth of it. I read my favorite authors highlighting with my fine neon yellow marker how they develop characters, how they deliver the “message” without preaching, how they use words succinctly to get to the point.

Not for me the angst of the suffering writer. If I’m not enjoying my writing, sooner or later I won’t be writing. And I love to write. So when my writing gets a bit stale, I sit down with of my favorite writers and read.


Ethel Lee-Miller is an original member of The Write Group of Montclair, now transplanted to Tucson AZ. She likes to think she’s approached the feel that her favorite authors deliver in her own stories like “Craggy,” Leave-taking” and “Earl’s Stroke” in Seedlings, Stories of Relationships.