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I’ve been writing for about eleven years now. I started back in high school, and I had this grand idea that I would become a writer like Hemmingway, Capote, or Steinbeck. I would make money doing what I loved, and no one would tell me anything different.
Needless to say, eleven years later, I haven’t gotten there yet. I’m still working on the one novel since high school, and freelancing is very hard to come by. I know all great writers started off small, but it sure does take a while to actually get anywhere. As a result, here are five things I wish I’d known when I started writing.
- Writer’s block is a real thing
Ah, writer’s block: the bane of all writers. To me, it seems like a tiny little man taking a padlock and locking the door to your creative process. And it takes a while for you to grab a sledgehammer and smash the lock off the door. It’s hard even admitting that you have it, but when you do it lessens it a bit. Eventually the door is open again, but it takes forever.
- Inspiration can happen anytime, anywhere.
Inspiration is a fickle mistress. It can happen when you’re sitting in a car on a long road trip, during a class when you’re supposed to be taking notes, or when you’re in bed trying to sleep after a long day.
- Always carry a notebook with you.
This applies to number 4. Once inspiration hits, you need to write it down fast, or you’ll lose it before it even is put down on the page. I now carry a pocket-sized notebook in my pocket with me at all times.
- Breaks are a good thing.
One image that people have of writers, I think, is that of a harried-looking individual hunched over a desk doggedly tapping away at a typewriter—or in this day and age, a laptop—as the clock ticks away to the deadline, a half-empty coffee cup clutched in one hand or perched precariously on the table’s edge as they go over this paragraph or agonize how to titillate the reader this way. That may be a good idea, in reality, it is awful. Ever gone on a writing bender? Yeah, I have, and it isn’t fun at all. Breaks are undeniably a good thing. I get up and stretch, I listen to music, I read a book, or I watch something on Netflix or YouTube.
- Writing takes time; practice makes perfect.
Okay, the first story I ever wrote was, er…well, it wasn’t good. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, it stunk. I mean, it wasn’t the next Illiad or Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I realized that I wasn’t going to become a great writer overnight or at least a decent one. I had to study other writers’ styles in order to figure out my own.
So there you have it; five things I wish I had known when I started writing. I may publish this post again with even more things, but we’ll see what happens.