I always think about writing and I’ve thought about writing all my life. Ever since I was a small child I wanted to become a published author one day. I could picture my future self happily tapping away at my keyboard, the page filling with words. Back then it was nothing but a dream, during my early 20’s it was a simple hobby and then one day I decided to try and see if I can fulfil my dream.
This is a list of fifteen things I’ve learnt about writing since then:
- It’s hard. I lost count of the number of days where I was close to hitting my head against the keyboard, over and over again, just so I wouldn’t have to write more words, because by that point they no longer looked like proper words and all I wanted to do was go to bed and sleep. I was pretty certain by that point my brain was nothing but grey goo.
- It sucks. Because it’s hard. Forget that image of the writer happily tapping away on his keyboard a satisfied smile on his face while the page fills with words.
- Hard, sure. Sucks, definitely. But it’s also the greatest thing in the world, because you get to create your own universe and torture characters all day long.
- After staring at words for an entire day, English suddenly resembles an alien language new to this planet.
- Good intentions alone are (usually) a waste for people who like to procrastinate. Find other writers who promise to kick you in the butt if you don’t check in with them in the evening, proclaiming you’ve indeed written words.
- Have a notebook on your bedside table. The best ideas pop up when you’re naked in the shower, about to fall asleep, or just about to slide into the slippers before your first coffee. They are no longer there once you’ve poured the coffee, booted up your computer and waited for your writing program to open. Write them down the moment they appear or weep. You’ve been warned.
- After the initial excitement you feel at the start of a new book, you will definitely hit the moment where you can’t help but realise all the words you’ve written so far are shit and none of it is publishable. Don’t give up. It can be fixed while editing. Anything can be fixed while editing. Yes, anything.
- Write whatever you like. The times where I tried to force myself to write something else, I ended up not writing at all. (Unless you have a publishing contract with a deadline, demanding a sequel to your urban fantasy mystery, in that case you’ll have to write your urban fantasy mystery, sorry.)
- Don’t quit. If you quit there will be no book. Without a book how are you supposed to become a famous published author?
- Make time to read books. Read them as a writer. Watch how the author pulls you in, how they set up their characters and how they foreshadow their endings. Learn from those that are better than you. If you end up not liking a book, try to figure out why. What was it that didn’t resonate with you? (And, you know, you’ll probably feel better about your own book.)
- It doesn’t matter whether you outline or not, both ways work and there are authors out there who use both methods at the same time or prefer one method over the other. Find the way that works for you.
- The story is over when the story is over. “Whoops, I wrote another short story,” and “Whoops, I wrote another novella,” are common exclamations in this household. Oh, well.
- Feedback can be crushing, but it’s the only way to improve.
- A writer needs thick skin to deal with rejection. Otherwise you’ll have yet another reason to weep. Cherish each rejection, because it means: you’ve got a finished project AND you had the courage to send it out.
- I need deadlines and someone to hold me accountable or I can happily stare at a blank page all day long.
See you next week,