I’ve recently had a couple of people ask about advice for aspiring writers. I was honored they asked for my thoughts, and I decided to dedicate a post to the response. This is such a broad topic, so I’ll focus on the writing process for now.
This might sound crazy, but I love everything about the writing process: the creativity, the solitude, the right word, the research, the procrastination, the blocks, the breakthroughs, the editing…all of it. It’s a constant journey, and one I am proud to travel. I’ve been writing since the day I could hold a pencil and form letters, but I’m not the most well-known or perfect writer. I’ve come to realize that isn’t always the point.
Sometimes you do things because they make you feel alive. Writing isn’t always glamorous or joyful. Notice “procrastination” and “writing blocks” included in my description of writing? If we didn’t have these frustrating moments, the breakthroughs wouldn’t feel as important. Each part of the process has a role, and it should make you feel something deep inside. It should remind you you’re human and blessed to even be breathing.
Whatever you choose to do as a hobby or profession, it should make you feel alive. That’s when you know you’re on to something.
If you’ve chosen the path of writing, here are a few thoughts to help inspire the writer within:
Sit and write.
One of my favorite quotes from Steven Pressfield is “put your ass where your heart wants to be.” If you’re a painter, then paint. If you’re a chef, then cook. If you have a passion for words and connecting with people, writing is the perfect conduit for you. So stop organizing your sock drawer or scrolling through Pinterest for more recipes you’ll never bake and get to writing. Put yourself in front of the computer, because the page is waiting for you to show up.
Believe in your voice.
I’ve heard countless people say they’re not enough. They don’t feel creative enough, original enough or good enough with grammar. My response to that is you are always enough. If you feel inexperienced at writing, remember you are experienced in life. Write about things important to you. Tell stories that only you have lived. There are people who can help you edit when it’s time. Until then, be gentle and true to yourself. Speak up and be heard. You are important, and we need to hear what you have to say.
Edit when it’s time.
Once you’ve developed a habit of showing up and writing daily, there comes a time when you need to edit your work and share it with others – perhaps even a publisher. If this is an area where you feel insecure, reach out to that friend or co-worker who is meticulous about grammar and ask for help. If you have kids, get to know his/her English teacher and trade baked goodies for a proofreading session. Get creative about the areas where you don’t feel confident. If you want to brush up on your skills, take an English class at the local community college or subscribe to the Associated Press Stylebook. What you don’t want to happen is let the process of editing keep you from introducing your beautiful work to the world.
Listen to feedback with an open mind.
If you’ve shared your work and the feedback includes pages of red ink, don’t get discouraged. If you’ve been turned down by countless publishers, don’t stop writing. Try to find common themes from the feedback and make adjustments. While the writing feels incredibly personal, remember that it’s the story being reviewed – not you. Separate your emotions from the work. When you can do this, and be objective about the mechanics of your writing, you give your work a chance to become stronger.
One of the best ways to become a good writer is to read good writing. Pick up a novel and immerse yourself in the storyline. Once you’ve read the book, conduct a mini review. What worked and what didn’t? How would you have changed the ending? Did you like the dialogue or was it forced? What emotions did you have, and how did the author engage you? Dissecting a book is a sure fire way to inspire a story of your own. If all else fails, read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg or Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. They’re two of my favorite resources for writing.
Let me know if this was helpful! I’d be happy to share writing tips specifically for bloggers if there’s interest. Just let me know in the comments, on Twitter, through email – however you like to communicate. All of my info is listed on the Contact page.
Have a creative day, my friends, and go write something awesome! #CreativeTipTues