Friday, April 8, 2011

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Writer

I love being a writer. But as with anything, there are some things I wish I'd known before I got started. The blog Paper Hangover is hosting Friday Fives, where writers share the five things they wish they knew before becoming a writer.


1) It’s ok to be afraid, but do it anyway

I stared writing in my early teens. In my bedroom, door closed. I like to think my family didn’t know what I was doing – they probably did, but we didn’t talk about it. You see, I never told anyone I wrote because I was scared of what they’d say. Sometimes my doubts made me stop writing all together. I lost valuable years of developing my craft thanks to my fears. And I regret that every day as I try to keep moving forward with my writing years later. It’s ok to be afraid – writing is a scary thing, putting your thoughts and feelings on display – but never stop writing. You can only get better, and soon enough, those fears will fade.

2) Seek out all the opportunities available to you

I hate the fact that I was too intimidated to take a creative writing class in college. I was good at studying, got good grades, but terrified at trying something more creative in a room of my peers, even though I had been writing on my own for some time. Now I realize that it was foolish to let my fears hold me back like that. Today I would kill for an opportunity to take a creative writing class with my peers. Now I constantly cull the local paper for writing opportunities and events. I got involved with two writing groups. I make sure I know when readings and author events happen near me. If you want it, work for it. Make connections. You never know what will pan out.

3) Don’t just read books – study them

You’re going to read a lot of books. For fun, for school. Books you want to read. Book you hate. But the best thing you can do is become an active reader, a critical reader. Don’t just read a book because you have to or because you want to pass the time. Read for craft. Why does the author write something one way and not another? Why is one book a page turner and another one isn’t? How would you make the content of a dry history text come to life? By asking yourself these questions as you read, you will have internalized the techniques of other writers and be able to apply them to your own writing.

4) Remember to experience life

If you know you want to be a writer, that’s great. And it’s important to work towards that goal. But don’t forget to experience life in you quest for literary greatness. Go to that party. Watch TV. Walk in the rain. Talk to that person you never talk to but always see. Live. And write. The more you experience, the more fodder you will have for your stories.

5) Don’t give up

Writing is a long journey. It can be lonesome. It can be terrifying. But it can also be exhilarating. It can also be energizing. It can tell you who you are. But it takes determination, patience, and hard work. A few good writer friends won’t hurt either. You will be rejected, you will get discouraged. But you will still pick up your pen or type on your keyboard, because you are a writer. You write.

Be sure to check out the other writers participating by going HERE.

13 comments:

Laura Marcella said...

Excellent fives! I agree with them all, especially #4.

Lori M. Lee said...

Great post ^^ A lot of what you said here really resonates with me. I'm glad you haven't and won't give up!

blueeyedadri said...

Wow, great content and advice here. My parents still don't know I write, "How is that going to pay the bills?" Sad that we are 'scared' of admitting we do something we love. *sigh*

Holly Dodson said...

This is a really great list. I was SO scared to admit that I wanted to be a writer.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

these are so true-- #2 especially. I think it is true of writing and everything else in life.

Michelle Julian said...

Great list with good advice.

Adrienne, my parents don't know I write either!

Alicia Gregoire said...

#4 is something I always struggle with. I love your list.

emy shin said...

Awesome list. I especially agree with #3 -- you can learn so much by reading and learning from what you read.

Christine Murray said...

I think #5 is so important. It's so hard to keep going sometimes, but I think at this point I couldn't not write.

anonymeet said...

Thanks for sharing these. They are so true. Especially number #5!

Saumya said...

I relate to all of these and I'm sure all of your readers do! The doubt can be so paralyzing and so can the fear. I also wish I had taken a creative writing classes in college. Your post is so inspiring!!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Number 5 is really important. I need to make myself a sticky note with that one on it and post it in a couple spots in my house as a reminder....

Thanks for the great tips!

Bluestocking said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments!

KO and Emy, thanks for stopping by!

blueeyedadri, Holly Dodson, Michelle Julian - glad to know there are others out there who keep their writing badge a secret!

Laura Marcella, Alicia Gregoire - It's definitely hard to balance writing with other things in life, but imo, no experience goes to waste.

And Lori M. Lee, Christine Murray, Anonymeet, Sharon K. Mayhew - No, will never give up. Might adjust my expectations, but I will not give up :)

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