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This blog was featured on 04/27/2018
Gillian Flynn Writing Lessons for Rebel Authors
Written by
She Writes
April 2018
Written by
She Writes
April 2018

Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl, has reached heights in the author world most only dream of. With two major motion pictures based on her books, an upcoming HBO mini series and a pending Amazon series, she has reached the elite top reserved for Stephen King and J.K. Rowling and other unimaginably famous writers.

After you're done watching the breathtaking trailer for Sharper Objects, starring Amy Adams (go on, we'll wait), you may be feeling a sense of anguish, wondering how you could ever come anywhere near this author's awesome star power. 

However, Flynn manages to stay incredibly humble and down to earth, even as she talks about her amazing achievements. Her foul-mouthed, yet humble approach to her career makes you realize she feels the insecurities we all do and she doubts even in the wake of her success, but she continues to pursuit her passion with rebellious fervor.

And you can too by following her lead.

Write What You Want to Read

Flynn found an untapped emotional trigger when she decided to write female characters that were edgier than anyone had ever read.

On her previous website, Flynn had this to say:

“Libraries are filled with stories on generations of brutal men, trapped in a cycle of aggression. I wanted to write about the violence of women.

So I did. I wrote a dark, dark book. A book with a narrator who drinks too much, screws too much, and has a long history of slicing words into herself.”

And from this, unforgettable characters were born.

Know the Emotions You Want to Evoke

Gillian Flynn is not afraid to trigger something dark and uncomfortable in her reader. She doesn’t focus on what she thinks people want to hear, she focus on what she wants to make them feel.

In an interview with Chicago Magazine she discussed her love of dread:

“Dread is probably my favorite emotion. I don’t necessarily love being the-cat-jumping-out-of-the-cabinet scared. But I love that slow-boil dread of, ‘Something’s wrong here. I don’t know what it is.’”

Be Unapologetically Who You Are

Flynn has made missteps in the past where she attempted to pigeonhole her writing and be what she thought was expected. In an interview with Fast Company, she talked about the disaster of letting outside voices impact your writing.

“It was a very good lesson, which is: don’t let the outside voices tell you what you should be writing. You’ve got to write the book that you’re supposed to be writing, not write the book that you think people will want to read or the book that will sell better or the book that the critics will like more.”

Even the Pros Struggle to Produce         

If you’re staring at a blank page thinking, [insert famous author name] would never be this stuck, you’re wrong. Flynn describes her daily struggle to write with Daily Beast.

“Drink half a pot of coffee. Go downstairs to my basement writing lair. Sit myself in my chair and threaten myself like a recalcitrant child: you will sit in this chair and you will not move until you get this scene written, missy. Get the caffeine shakes. Regret drinking so much coffee. Finish writing the scene. Reward myself with a game or eight of Galaga.”

There’s no perfect writing routine or recipe. It is and will always be a “butt in chair, do the work” kind of job, no matter how famous you get.

Let Other Women See You Succeed

As women attempt to break through all kinds of glass ceilings, Flynn talked to Good Housekeeping about showing up and letting successful women be seen.

“I've gone to lots of meetings where I'm the only person in a skirt, and I deal with that by plowing through it. Media is male-dominated; Hollywood certainly is. I remember I'm there because I'm a writer. The more women see other women in high-profile, powerful places, the more those women are going to believe that they can [achieve].”

Anyone looking at Flynn’s accolades would think she’s reached some untouchable celebrity status that comes only with natural talent and pure raw confidence. However, she has had doubts and missteps and false starts just like so many aspiring authors are experiencing right now. In interview after interview though, she simply continues to push forward no matter what critics or her own insecurities have to say about it.

(feature image courtesy of gillian-flynn.com)

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