I prefer tea to coffee, but I do like a good espresso. Unfortunately, the espresso machine that I most covet only uses baby unicorn tears and extra virgin coffee beans. So this past Christmas, I wisely received the gift of a stovetop moka pot instead. It doesn’t make espresso (you would need another six bars of pressure for that), but it does turn out a good cuppa joe.

Of course, before I made my first cup, I DuckDuckGo’d “best moka” (or something like that.) You know the rest. Apparently every person in the known universe has a moka pot, a stove, a modem, and a WordPress account. Not surprisingly, each one has figured out how to make coffee so good that you will literally see God. (Just don’t let Him see you, because He will steal your coffee. It’s that good.) Start with cold water. No, preheat the water. Gently tamp the grounds. No, don’t ever tamp the grounds. Take the pot off the burner once the coffee bubbles up. No, leave the pot on the burner. Keep the lid closed. Open the lid. Use this blend. Use that blend.

After some trial and error, and with a few of my own innovations, I have developed a method that produces what I like to refer to as...a pretty darn good cup of coffee.

My approach to writing is kind of the same. I learn what I can from those who have mastered the form, then I apply those lessons to my own craft. In the process, I have to filter out what doesn’t work, and I also try to keep learning so I can keep my writing fresh and steamy hot. (Wait, what was I talking about?)

The secret to my potato salad is that I figured out how to make it the way I like it. And that’s how I write.

Or maybe it’s like potato salad. Someone once asked me the secret to my potato salad.

(Because every good potato salad has a secret.)

I replied that the secret to my potato salad is that I figured out how to make it the way I like it. And that’s how I write. For an audience of one. Now, that’s probably not a smart business plan, but it’s my approach to writing.

Editing is a bit different. Once you have written something that is unassailable to your internal critic’s voice, a next step is to see what kind of appeal it might have for others. As an editor, that’s an important chunk of my job. And I like to think I’m pretty good at it. (Of course, I also like to think I’m twenty years younger than I actually am.) But when I write, I write for me. This will no doubt have a deleterious effect on my Amazon ranking (as soon as I publish something), but I can’t convince myself to do it any other way. There’s probably a help group for cases like me. Heck, they’re probably meeting right now in some nearby off-brand coffeehouse. One thing is for sure, though. The coffee they’re drinking? Not as good as mine.