- Writing is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t human.
- Words don’t write themselves. Unfortunately.
- They’re bad at it. Or they’re too good.
- There’s more to writing than just writing. Writers don’t just write. They read. They research. They revise. You have to do more than just write if you want to write well.
- Writing isn’t black and white. The creative process differs for everyone. What works for me might not work for you. Which is why you should never take someone else’s writing advice as gospel, even and especially my own.
- It’s not for everyone. We aren’t all born to be writers. Imagine living in a world where everyone loved writing. That’s a terrifying but thrilling idea.
Because I know all about writing every day…
Invest in expensive stationery. So you’re excited to use new pens. Then again, maybe it’s better to invest in nice but not too nice writing utensils. That way you won’t go broke replacing them. At the very least, write with something that isn’t frustrating to use.
Invest in locks. You can lock all the doors and windows. Anything to stop family members from barging in and invading your personal space. Just lock yourself away. Don’t be accessible to anybody until you emerge from you den.
Invest in noise cancelling headphones. For all those times you can’t control your environment. Perfect if you work at a coffee shop or write on the train but still prefer some silence. Listening to a baby’s cries piercing your eardrums is not conducive to productivity.
Invest in mugs. There’s nothing more annoying than having to get up and refill when you’re in the middle of a scene.
Invest in drinks. Choose whatever you prefer. Water. Coffee. Tears. Avoid beverages you despise to make your writing experience more enjoyable.
Invest in snacks. Snacking and writing go hand in hand. Besides, working while hungry isn’t a good idea in theory or in practice.
Invest in PJs. Are you going to do most of your writing in a suit or skirt? At the minimum, comfortable clothes are a must.
Invest in a bed. Ideally, buy a big one that practically calls your name at night.
Invest in books. When you’re not writing, you’re reading. Stories inspire stories.
Invest in yourself. You could take a class in writing or attend a conference on editing. Be the best writer you can be.
Invest in your future. Take care of yourself today so you can do better tomorrow. Eat. Exercise. Sleep. Live like a normal human being. You’re not some superhuman who can skip out on basic survival needs.
Writing every day is easy, said no one ever.
I’ve edited essays until my eyes hurt, so I figured I’d break down my process to better understand how I operate. For those moments I don’t remember what to do when faced with a terrible first draft.
I tend to start from the beginning and work my way to the end. It seems the most logical to me.
I’m not sure where I’d even begin if I didn’t start with the first sentence. That being said, reading backwards is a good strategy to catch spelling mistakes.
When I’m on the computer, I make content changes. This involves cutting, rewriting, as well as moving ideas around. It’s just easier to copy and paste on a computer than on a phone.
I make edits to the content first before I get to the mechanics or the smaller but still significant details like grammar. Once I’m happy with the placement of each sentence, I move on to making everything sound better.
I almost always take a break to get away from my slightly-improved-but-still-needs-plenty-of-improvement essays. I think about anything else in the world not related to editing.
I come back with a fresher pair of eyes and a re-energized mind.
Then I do technical edits on my phone. It’s convenient because I bring my device with me everywhere I go, so I can access my essays all the time.
I play with words until I find the perfect one. Two seconds later, I resign myself to the fact that perfection is impossible. Again, I work in a chronological fashion.
I know I’m done when I try to change something but end up liking the original better. I came up with a new title once, but I ultimately went with the old one.
Editing is a time-consuming process. There aren’t any corners you can cut. Just do your best. Who knows, you may even surprise yourself when all is said and done.
I tend to fall in love with something and then turn the thing into work.
But it’s important to love what you do.
I start doing for the wrong reasons. And then my passions stop being enjoyable.
For me, I write not for the sake of writing but because I love the creative process. So even if I never make it as a writer, I’ll still spend my life working away on a story or twenty thousand.
Same goes for blogging. Every time I think about my passions, I realize I’ve stuck with them because I don’t need external rewards to motivate me to keep going.
It’s enough that I enjoy creating characters, sharing stories, visiting worlds.
I hope I get to do what I love for the rest of my life.
At the very least, I know what I don’t love. I try to avoid the stuff I despise as much as possible.
I’ve been thinking about how I’ll make money doing what I love, how I’ll make a living.
A part of me believes if you work hard and you do what you’re doing out of love, you can’t really go wrong.
Life’s too short, but it’s also too long if you don’t enjoy your time on earth.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re going to make mistakes just like everybody else. That’s okay. You’re going to be all right.
Every storm ends. Every moment passes. Cherish what you have. Remember to laugh. Don’t forget to love. Keep going even when you think you can’t. Good luck. Believe in yourself and your abilities. It’s the least you can do.
At some point, you have to let your story go. You can’t hold onto one story your whole life and never move on. Well, I guess technically you can.
Letting go and moving on applies to every stage of the creative process. Easier said than done though.
My problem isn’t so much moving on but knowing when to let go.
How do you know when to let your story go?
If you plan to submit your piece somewhere, there’s a predetermined deadline you’ll have to meet. That external force often helps.
But what if you don’t have a deadline?
Set one yourself.
Be your own boss. Otherwise, you’ll never get much work done.
It’s okay if you don’t feel ready, if your story isn’t perfect.
At least you did the best you could. And next time you’ll do better. After all, nothing can truly replace first-hand experience.
So start stories but finish them. When you’re done with one, write another. Keep going. You’ve come a long way, yet you have so much further to go.
Let go. Move on. Start over. Start again.
There’s no shame in that. Don’t you dare feel guilty for creating art the way you want.
I know I used the pronoun “you,” but I was directing this post at myself. Disregard any advice that doesn’t apply to you.
As 2017 winds down to a close, I can’t help but reflect on this year. Honestly, I’m happy with how it turned out. I can’t wait to see what lessons await me in 2018.
Thank you so much for being a part of my journey. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I have writing them.
Feeling uninspired and unmotivated is one thing. Feeling blocked or at an impasse is another.
Here are ways to beat writer’s block and write the next New York Times bestseller.
Take a shower/bath.
A shower somehow seems to solve everything. Maybe water is magical. Somehow, I have my best ideas during the most inconvenient times possible.
Take a walk.
It doesn’t have to be a long one. Get outside. Breathe in some fresh air. It helps clear your mind. Who knows, an idea might strike you while you’re out in nature, talking to flowers or trees.
Take a break.
And have fun. If, like me, you’ve forgotten the definition of fun, it might be a sign you need a new dictionary. Sometimes you may be better off relaxing for a little bit before returning to your work in progress. A break never hurt anyone, did it?
Take your time.
Writer’s block doesn’t care about your feelings. It will stay as long as it wants to. Just remember everything comes to an end. Nothing ever lasts. Before you know it, you’ll be back on track. Don’t forget you have an entire lifetime to write.
I should be a writer’s block doctor. If writing doesn’t work out, at least I have another career to fall back on. What do you think?
On a serious note, I hope I see your books on the charts one day.
I love baseball. I love writing. And I love advice.
Make the adjustment.
As a hitter, you adjust to the pitchers. As a pitcher, you adjust to the hitters. As a writer, you adjust to the reader. To your audience whether it’s one person or one million. The way you email an editor is different from the way you text your agent. But of course, that’s not the only adjustment you have to make. You and your characters have to adapt to different scenarios all the time.
When life throws you a curveball, hit it out of the ballpark.
Pretty self explanatory, right? Find the good in the bad. Then proceed to succeed.
Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
I especially like thinking about this one in terms of rejection. Never let the fear of rejection keep you from writing, from blogging. If you aren’t afraid of rejection, replace with failure, judgement, whatever applies to you.
You can’t steal second without taking your foot off first.
My take on this: You have to move if you want to improve. And in order to improve, you have to write as often as possible. I’m all for writing every day, but I realize life happens. We’re all busy. Still, you’ll be surprised at the progress you’ll make over time with consistent practice.
Every strike brings you closer to the next home run.
Every rejection brings you closer to the next acceptance. The rare acceptances make the frequent rejections worth it.
If you think practice is boring, try sitting on the bench.
You have the right to shake me silly if I ever say writing is boring. The thought of not being able to write anything has me picking up a notebook and pen faster than someone can throw a 100 mph fastball to home plate. I don’t like boredom. Who does?
This has been fun. Even if no one reads this post or everyone hates it, I want to do a part two or something similar in the future.
Blog posts are the only things I know how to write, but even that is questionable. It depends who you ask.
So whenever I have to write for academia, you can imagine the ensuing panic. And if you can’t, I’ll try to describe it.
Never mind, I can’t.
Safe to say I’m no expert when it comes to writing research papers or literary essays. But somehow I’ve gotten by.
How? I have no idea.
Do I have any business giving advice on writing? Nope. Will that stop me? Never.
Follow instructions. Follow rules. Follow whatever your professor says.
I hate following with a passion. But I’ll do whatever it takes to pass. Academic writing will never be as kind to you as creative writing is.
If you’re ever unsure about a fact, double check.
When you’re unsure of the meaning of a word, look it up. It’s always better to err on the side of caution. Always.
When in doubt, cut it out.
Try to delete anything you don’t need. It’s hard to detect sometimes, especially if you’re editing your own writing. But you’ll thank yourself later. Besides, everyone is better off without unnecessary adverbs. Seriously, your lovely teacher will totally understand that your really amazingly awesome point is very important.
Know your weaknesses.
Also, try to learn the words you fall back on as a crutch. You know what words I’m talking about. In elementary, my teachers pointed out my love for the word “then.” Then this happened. Then I did that. Then you get the idea. Now for some reason, I have a mildly unhealthy attraction to the word “that”. It’s more obvious in my essay writing when I’m not careful. Using the same words again and again becomes redundant. If you use them too much, the word loses power. After all, not every sentence needs to begin with “then” followed by “that.”
Even if you follow nothing else I’ve said, hopefully you’re able to do this:
Write about something you care about, something you’re passionate for.
It doesn’t have to be a topic you know like the back of your hand either. That’s why research exists. I realize students don’t always get a say in the matter. Still, finding an interesting subject that makes you want to write is half the battle.