In order to be a writer, you must write everyday.
If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.
We hear these comments all the time. From fellow writers, the ones we look up to, and teachers.
The thing is, while these are great pieces of advice, I wish someone would have sat me down and went in depth about what it means to be a writer with me.
The first thing no one told me about writing?
When I was younger, the ideas would just flow from my mind to paper. There was never something that stopped me, or held me back. But my stories made no sense, either.
Now that I’ve learned more about character development, plot, setting, grammar, and a slew of other things, I find that I second guess myself a lot. But that’s okay, because it leads me to…
The second thing no one told me about writing?
Don’t edit as you write!
If you edit as you write, you will never get something down on the page. This is something I learned the hard way by doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) back in 2013. The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write at least 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. And in the first week, I hadn’t written more then 5,000, thanks to editing as I wrote.
Once I broke myself out of that (by turning off spell and grammar check), I sped through.
Yes, editing is a large part of writing. But that should come after the first draft is done. No one expects the first draft to be perfect. You can’t edit a blank page!
The third thing no one told me about writing?
Sometimes, beginning can be harder then finishing.
We all know that finishing a story is hard. It takes a lot of dedication and passion to get yourself to write at least 50,000 words of a novel, or 50 – 120 pages worth of script. But what no one tells you? Starting your story can be even harder.
Deciding where to start the story, or even what the opening words should be, is difficult. There is a lot of pressure on those first few words, because if they don’t grab the reader, your story will get tossed aside. But beyond that, if you start at the wrong part of your story, there could be something missing from the rest of the tale, or the beginning of the story will be slow.
Once you learn this, staring at a blank page can be almost crippling.
How I’ve learned to get passed this is outlines. To me, an outline is a map that contains the starting point (those first few words), the journey (the middle, including the climax), and the destination (those last, closing words).
I know a lot of people don’t write outlines though, but this is what works for me.
The fourth thing no one told me about writing?
The Curse of the Writer.
This is what I call this odd phenomenon that happens to me. I am working on one project, and about a million ideas for other projects invade my mind.
Or I am doing something in no way connected to writing, and that activity sparks a slew of ideas for different stories. It could be any activity, too. Even just a conversation with a friend.
Or I am doing something (work), where I can’t write down anything, and that’s when my best ideas come.
These all fall under the “curse of the writer”. Otherwise known as “unable to shut my mind up”.
I haven’t found any way to work with this, beyond writing all of my ideas down when I can. Of course, this means I have about ten documents between my phone and computer, and more notebooks then I can count, with snippets of ideas in them. I have also created a list of my projects, and what order I want to get them done it (not that I always stick to this).
Writing is a hard. Contradictory to the idea of “if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” writing is a LOT of work. It is also something you have to love with a burning passion in order to stick with it.
Writing is, by no means, an easy way to make a lot of money.
With novels, it takes a huge amount of luck to become the next Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, or James Patterson. And before you can even get to the publishing phase, you have to write hundreds of drafts.
It also takes a lot of luck to sell a movie or television script, and even more luck that it will be produced. And beyond that, even more luck that it’ll do well.
No one might have told you these things before, but I am now. Writing is hard work, but if you love it with a passion, you won’t mind the work.