Hello and welcome to what is now my third blog. Last time we touched on the fundamentals of writing, and while you may think we will be elaborating on one of those topics today, you’ll be surprised to learn that we will instead be talking about the fundamentals of being a writer. Learning the basics of writing is important but learning how to be a writer is equally so. Here are some of the vital aspects of being a writer you’d ought to know to develop your craft.
Be Willing to Make Something Bad
Like it or not, what you make now will likely be the source of embarrassment for yourself in the future regardless of your work’s actual quality. For many writers starting out, the idea of writing anything less than your best is tantamount to death by discomfort, but in order to develop something good one needs to accept their cringe-worthy side. You can’t experiment if you’re too afraid you’ll make something bad, nor can you even look at your own work critically. I know how it feels to read a clunky paragraph you don’t even remember writing or a nonsensical metaphor. It makes you want to put it down and never look at it again. But, if you want to get good, you’ll have to work passed the mental anguish. Yes, that sentence reads terribly, that description is confusing, that word choice is… weird; but if you let that stop you, you might as well give up.
Read Other People’s Work
“How the hell does that help?” you might think. Surprisingly, a lot. Have you ever gone for a cross-country drive at night, nearly home? You’ve only got fifteen minutes left, but you’re at your wit’s end. The dark street starts to disappear, leaving only the red taillights and neon-reflections of signs to dance around your vision—barely able to tell what’s what or what’s where, as your knuckles go white and your teeth grind in anxiety and desperation for sleep. That kind of fatigue can happen in writing too! I remember being near the end of my first manuscript, I felt like I hardly knew what a complete sentence was, could barely describe the color of a clear sky. Those moments are when reading other’s works can help reorient yourself and reset your mind.
“Oh, that’s how you can describe a peach!”
Another important advantage is inspiration. Now, I know it sounded like I just advocated for intellectual property theft, but the truth is far from that. Like it or not, the way you write prose is influenced by that which you’ve read before, and there is nothing wrong with that. Reading can help you discover new narrative methods and expand your knowledge of what can be done with literature.
Be Patient and Humble
Your first ever work is not going to be a masterpiece, the first draft of your manuscript is not going to be your last, and your first idea is not going to be your best. You need to practice and keep trying and march through the frustration and pain, because it is through that you attain skill. It may take you years to write a book that you’re even close to being satisfied with, and you may never be completely happy with it. Accept that you aren’t the best and that success isn’t happening immediately. Only when you accept that you are at the bottom can you climb the mountain ahead.
I hope you liked this installment, check back next week!