The idiom, to write against the grain, means to do things one’s own way, going against the normal rules or expectations as to how that things are usually done: opposite ideas or opposite in nature; writing against the grain.

Origin of Against the Grain

It is commonly believed that this expression developed from the grain in wood. In this instance, grain refers to the fibers of wood and the direction in which they lie; cutting in the opposite direction is more difficult and less common.

Through different critical evaluations, the emphasis is in the opposition; the new position is a minority position that it runs counter, to institutional positions. In writing against the grain, the greater contribution has been paid by feminist scholars; they have lifted the veil.

Hence, the rereading of Victorian studies carries one common idea that we should all be writing against the grain.

Shakespeare’s play

Coriolanus from 1607:

Say, you chose him

More after our commandment than as guided

By your own true affections, and that your minds,

Preoccupied with what you rather must do

Than what you should, made you against the grain

To voice him consul: lay the fault on us.

As a reader, you cannot develop an effective and complete against the grain until you have a clear understanding of what you think the author’s intentions are and the point of view. Thus, reading with and against the grain enables you to fully engage with a text and an author’s ideas.

A good author chooses their words carefully, working with care to convey meaning to their readers. As an author, there may be times when you may find writing with and against the grain difficult or seemingly impossible, but the rewards for you are abundant as you become a stronger writer and thinker.

“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”