good morning, cyberspace!
I’ve been a writer for quite a while now, and over the course of the many years in which I’ve labeled myself with that most auspicious title, I’ve learned a thing or two. Especially within the past few years, when I’ve really started to take my writing–and my writing career–seriously.
So today I thought I would share just a couple of these little lessons and tidbits with you all! Because that sounds fun, apparently.
no it doesn’t.
— 5 RANDOM LESSONS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT WRITING —
I. PROTECT YOUR WRITING TIME
And I don’t mean those precious moments you carve out of your day to write–although that’s a really important practice, as well. What I’m talking about is protecting the projects you allow yourself to work on. This is a lesson it took me a shamefully long time to learn, but one I am now perfectly adamant about.
You DO NOT have to write every single thing everyone wants you to write. Protect your writing time. Protect your projects. Work on the stories that excite and inspire YOU, even if that means dropping some projects that other people–or even yourself–really want you to do.
Take it from someone who’s had to drop projects before: it’s hard. Trying to figure out which projects to tackle and which to drop is one of the hardest things you can possibly do. But as a writer–and as a busy writer who wants to do ALL OF THE THINGS and only has enough time for some–we have to make these tough choices. We have to look at the projects we have on our plates and ask ourselves three very important questions:
– Is this a project I’m truly, incandescently, 100% passionate about (even when I’m feeling uninspired to write it) and am willing to spend months, if not YEARS of my life working on?
– Which of these projects excites me the most? (or at least excites me enough to be willing to continue working on it for the foreseeable future?)
and. . .
– Which of the projects that I’m juggling makes me the happiest?
And if at any point one (or more) of the projects you’re currently working on is NOT the answer to any of these three questions, it might be time to begin rethinking your priorities.
Of course, there are always going to be lulls in a project–moments where you’re stuck like a cat hair to Millicent Bulstrode’s robes and you would rather do ANYTHING else (literally anything) than continue working on your book. But even during those moments, I can typically still find something about my story that inspires me. Something that excites me and motivates me to continue working on it and see the project through to the end. And it’s those things that I cling to–the things that excite me and keep the fire lit in my soul–because when I’m working on a story, I want that story to be something that I’m really, truly passionate about, not something I feel is an obligation or something that will only interest me for a few weeks and then fade.
I’ve had to put projects on the backburner before–and in some cases, shelve some entirely–and while it’s one of the hardest things to do, it’s also one of the best for both you and the book. Stories don’t deserve to be written just because. They deserve to be written by someone who is passionate about the characters and the plot, someone who lives and breathes the tale they’re trying to tell. You only have so many hours every day to dedicate to your writing, so make sure that those hours are given to the stories you are 100% in love* with. Otherwise, you’ll be miserable, and that will show in your work.
*It’s important to note here that when I say love, I mean the action, not the feeling. You can love a story for a solid week and then be completely disconnected from it the next, but it’s the stories that you’re willing to enter the long-haul for that are the stories you truly love.
II. FOLLOW YOUR MUSE
More often than not, your muse–or your gut instinct, the invisible friend with the cookies, whatever you want to call that little hobgoblin living up inside your brain cells that whispers vague delusions into your ears–knows exactly where it’s going. (Or maybe not. But it’s leading you blindly along whilst waving cookies beneath your nose, so you’d better follow it anyway.) So if your muse is telling you that something isn’t working–or that something is, even if it wasn’t written out in your original design for your story–LISTEN TO IT.
The worst that can happen is you write yourself into a corner and have to work your way back out again. The absolute best thing that can happen is you go down a path you could never have imagined before, discovering magic and creation that fills your creative tank with immeasurable possibility.
Totally worth the deviation, in my humble opinion.
III. IGNORE THE WORLD AS YOU WRITE
This is a really important one, and therefore one that I will trumpet from the rooftops: IGNORE THE WORLD AS YOU WRITE, PEASANTS.
When my mind is so mixed up in what other people–my family, my friends, the rest of the universe as we know it, the aliens currently banging on my window–are going to think about me and the story I’m writing, I always–repeat A-L-W-A-Y-S get blocked.
It’s so tough a block, in fact, that it takes a very deliberate and typically painful act on my part to get out of that toxic headspace, forget the rest of the world is watching, and just write for me. It doesn’t matter if my first draft smells like the remains of a dung beetle left to stew out on the hot pavement for three days in the height of summer. All that matters during the first draft–and even in the second and third drafts–is that I’m having fun. That I’m enjoying the story. That I’m writing like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.
That’s the only way I can write as freely as I want to and without fear. And that’s the only way I’ve found to get me to finish any sort of project.
There’s a reason that Stephen King said to write with the door closed. Letting anyone else in–even if it’s your own inner editor or critic–is a recipe for disaster.
IV. WRITING IS NOT MY EVERYTHING
*initiate grotesque gasping*
OKAY, OKAY, I KNOW. This one is quite a shock, to be sure. But after many months and maybe even years of thinking writing is my everything, I’ve come to terms with the fact that writing is NOT all there is to life.
There are many other things in this impossibly huge universe to find joy in–like spending time with family, playing games, reading books, knitting scarves, slapping paint onto a page and calling it art. . . There’s ice cream and sunny days and rainy days and a whole wide world outside
that i constantly ignore because I’m writing, and it is OKAY to not write sometimes. In fact, sometimes taking a short–REPEAT: SHORT–break from writing is healthy. Sometimes it even helps to make you MORE productive later.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that writing does not have to be all you do in your life. Yes, it may be your passion–as it is for me–but there’s a fine line between chasing your dreams and being controlled by them. There’s so much to this world beyond the pages, so don’t forget to let yourself live the story that’s been written for you every now and then, too.
V. SUPPORT OTHERS IN THE SAME BOAT AS YOU
This last one should be relatively simple to understand, but let’s make it long and complicated, shall we?
Chances are, if you’re a writer-blogger (story-blogger? WROGGLER?), you know of other people in the same boat as you: writers writing the stories of their hearts as they hope and pray for the day when they’ll get published and magically become one of the few mythical beasts known as Authors. AND, if you’ve been a part of the
wroggling story blogging community for any length of time, chances are even greater that you’ve made friends with some of those writers, as well. Which means you probably have a ginormous chat group on Google Hangouts wherein you talk about literally everything and anything under the sun, but I digress.
And if you know of/are friends with other writers in the same boat as you–writers hoping to someday get published, writers who need someone to beta read their book and provide honest feedback, bloggers who write content that really resonates with you–SUPPORT THEM!!!
Read their book. Brainstorm ideas. Talk and squeal and rant about writing. Leave a comment or a like on their posts. Send them an email asking about their current WIP. Basically, if you want support when your time comes (i.e. when you need someone to beta read your book, when you want to squeal or rant about writing, when you’re hosting a blog tour or some other fancy schmancy thing that cool bloggers do or whatever
[i’m so good at this, wow]), you should start supporting others now*. Support your friends. Build each other up. Help each other grow and learn and become better writers together.
That’s what a community is, after all. We rise by building each other up, not plowing everyone else out of our way as we try to climb over their dead bodies to reach the top.
So support others in your canoe and make the writing community a brighter place than it was before.
*I kind of feel like I should mention that supporting someone for the sole reason of potentially “getting” something out of it is . . . aha . . . kind of rude??? and also typically pretty obvious. So don’t do this. Please. Supporting other writers should be something that you do because you like their content/personality/just them in general because they’re an amazing friend and you want to see them succeed in everything they do. At least, that’s why I support people, and I feel like it makes everything about writing and blogging a whole lot more fun. (and also all of the friends I’ve made here are people I genuinely care about, regardless of their talents. << even though my entire friend group consists of impossibly talented people and I am but a smol shrimp without a shred of talent but whatever. it’s fine. they like me for some reason.)
TALK TO ME, PEASANTS!
And those, my friends, were five random lessons I’ve learned about writing! I know it’s not much, but sometimes it’s the simplest things which are easiest to overlook–thus the reason I wanted to write this post. These are things that I’m not only still trying to teach myself at times, but things that I’m constantly reminding myself to remember each and every day. Protecting your writing time, following your muse down every rabbit hole he finds, keeping the thoughts and opinions of everyone else out of your head as you write (particularly while first drafting), living life outside of a screen . . . these are the things that don’t necessarily help build your craft or make you a more experienced writer, but they may help with your mentality when it comes to storytelling. And as we all know, writing is always an inner battle, so it can’t hurt to keep your brain–a.k.a. the hive for all the words that come pouring out of your fingertips–a happy pile of goop sitting up in your skull, now can it? (<< that wasn’t disturbing at all.)
After all, a happy mind writes happy words.
. . .
Okay. I’m moving on now. Let’s get to the questions!: What are some lessons that YOU’VE learned about being a writer, or just about writing in general? Do you have any tips for protecting your writing time (both with which projects to work on, and also with keeping your writing time sacred)? What are some things you love to do besides writing? and most importantly. . .
WHO’S A BLOGGER YOU LOVE TO SUPPORT?
I’m always looking for more blogs to follow (though I can hardly keep up with all the blogs I follow now. aha. #helpme), so splatter some links below to all of your favorite bloggers, and I’ll be sure to check them out! I think I did a post on some of MY favorite bloggers before, but after like ten minutes of searching, I still have no clue where it ran off to. SO. I guess I’m gonna have to make another post about my favorite bloggers and slap you in the face with it. *thumbs up*
As always, until next time. . .