For a year now, I’ve been able to call myself a professional writer. I get paid to write words. That payment goes toward paying bills (even writers like to eat and have a roof over our heads — despite how Hollywood likes to depict us). Then I’m broke and I have to wait for my next paycheck. Cie la vie… Anyway, that is the reason behind the pretentious title of this blog post.
That being said, here are 5 things that I consider to be important lessons that I’ve learned about being a writer.
1) Don’t Just Talk About Being a Writer.
We all love to talk about writing.
“Ohh, yeah, I’m writing a novel. It’s going to be a classic. Your children will be forced to read it and call me a genius. The main character is a unicorn named George that speaks German and poops chocolate chip cookies but the underlying theme is all about how we’re all victims of the government…”
We have big dreams and we’re all closet romantics (even if we write about unicorns that like to defecate chocolate chip cookies). However, none of those dreams (not even the chocolate ones) will come true if you just sit around talking about writing all day and you don’t actually…you know, write. That’s a pretty important part of the process.
2) Drink More Water
I don’t know you. I don’t know what your practices are. You could have a coffee IV drip that you wheel around with you all day. It could be a whiskey drip. However, I do know one thing. You’re not drinking enough water. Most people don’t (writer, artist, architect, doctor, etc.). We drink coffee to keep us alert and to help us concentrate, right? Well, that’s what I use it for anyway. However, drinking water will do the same thing — without the 2 o’clock crash.
I’m not saying that you should stop drinking coffee. There is scientific evidence that proves how beneficial coffee can be for your mind. What I am suggesting is that you drink one cup of water for every cup of coffee that you have. Coffee dries you out so you have to keep hydrated in order to stay sharp and focused. Also, they help to keep the hangovers away when you swap from coffee to wine or whiskey.
3) You’re Not Reading Enough Either
In order to become a better writer, you must be an avid reader. Read everything. Read travel brochures. Read children’s books. Read depressing, Russian literature. Read the ingredients on your tube of toothpaste. Read good novels. Read bad ones. Read. Reeeeeead. Reid…
Image by: Zena-Xina
You need to immerse yourselves in words in order to grow as a writer. If you’re busy, the best time to work in some reading is right before bed. I suggest reading a half an hour to an hour before you hit the sack. Our bodies need to be unplugged for that long (from electronics) in order to get a good night’s sleep anyway.
4) Go Outside
Another way to become a better writer is to go out and experience things. You can’t write about a unicorn if you don’t know what one looks like, smells like, and feels like. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best example…
The vitamin D will be good for you anyway. You probably need to expose your skin to some of those harmful UV rays. So, you know, bring some sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses. And maybe one of those big floppy hats.
5) Learn How to Take Constructive Criticism
This is an incredibly important trait. I’ll be the first to admit that I have trouble with criticism. However, I have been working at it and I’m proud to say that I no longer cry myself to sleep after going to a critique meeting. That being said, if you do actually cry after those types of meetings, you may need to go to a different group…
Think of it this way, when you’re with a writing group or if you have one of your peers, family members, friends, (or anyone really) critique your work, they give you suggestions to help you. It’s like they’re telling you that your fly is down before you go out into public. This is for the best. After some practice, you should be able to see that without having to empty a box of Kleenex in the process.
Keep on churning out those words everyone!
Back to the word mines…