Does anyone else wish that there was a manual for being an adult?
Like, flip to page 87 for a step-by-step, flawless instructions on how to pay taxes. Page 62 details exactly how to cultivate a healthy relationship and how to extract yourself from a toxic one.
Chapter 12. Finances. Here’s how you balance a checkbook, create a budget, and feed yourself on $100 a month when money is tight.
Problems solved. Life conquered.
Does anyone else need this? Because I need this. It would save me so much stress. Unfortunately, that isn’t how life works. Experience comes through mistakes. Everyone’s methods are a little different. Everyone has to find their own way forward and stumble around a bit until they figure out what they’re doing with life.
The same is true for writing.
No one can teach you how to write.
People can help you. They can encourage you, mentor you, offer tips and resources, and give you advice. You can take classes, hire a coach, attend seminars and conferences.
But in the end, when it finally comes down to it, it will be you and your story and a blank page. And you will have to write it the way you know how.
You, as a writer, will have to discover how magical words can be on your own.
Two people have had the greatest impact on my writing. The first was K.M. Weiland, because of her blog and her books and her marvelous advice. The second was Beth Swoboda, my editor, because she taught me how to love words.
She also kicked my butt and showed me what not to do.
I love her.
Mentors are wonderful. Coaches are wonderful. Tips and advice and articles can and will improve your technique and give you a new vision for what you are working on.
But the writing depends on you. Your story depends on you. An hour of regular practice is worth a thousand tips, and a trash full of deleted material will take you further than any article or class. You have to sort through the conflicting advice, the tips, the mentoring, and decide how you write stories.
You are a writer. Your story is yours. Only you can take responsibility and wade through the pages and pages of mediocre, sloppy writing that inevitably find their way onto a writer’s desk, slew it aside, and find the treasure underneath.
Your story. Told in your voice. With your passion carrying it through to the last page.
Four Tips To Apply It In Your Own Life
1. Your journey is your responsibility. No one else’s. Not your editor’s, not your coach’s. Yours. Whether you choose to approach it casually or with passion and determination depends entirely on you. How much do you care about your writing? How much are you willing to fight for it?
2. Never underestimate where a good, solid work ethic will take you. I have determined since the beginning that when I walk into the room, I might not be the most talented, the most connected, or the most popular, but I will be the one willing to work the hardest and sacrifice the most. Writer, it has never failed me.
3. Be proactive. Find the books, yes, find the blog posts, the feedback. And then sit your butt in your chair and write. Spend more time writing than you do researching. Or world-building. Or talking about your writing. Know when you are supposed to be writing and show up.
4. Make mistakes. Make a thousand mistakes. Make so many mistakes that your trash is full. Try things that don’t work. Write horrible, choppy dialogue and flat characters and cheesy, cringe-worthy moments. Use pretentious prose. Have too much white space. Have too little white space. The point is, if you are making mistakes, you are writing. And thus, you are learning.
Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.
Was this post helpful to you? Tell me about it in the comments, and drop in any tips of your own! I would love to hear about it.