11 quick + dirty things about writing
And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ― Sylvia Plath
If you have the calling to write, do yourself a favor and listen close. It won’t go away. It will chafe and grow inside you, a hard determined pearl.
If you wait too late to start, you will regret it.
Start now. What the hell. Buy a notebook and pen and go somewhere on your lunch hour and write something, anything, even if you’re just writing about not having anything to write. Enjoy the play of language. Get to know your mind in the way that only your writing can show you.
Give yourself permission to write badly, or you’ll never do it at all. First drafts are not about writing well. They’re about spinning out the raw material for you to work with in order to write well.
If you don’t write yourself into existence, someone else will have to invent you. click to tweet
Silence won’t save you. You think you’re hiding from criticism and judgment, but you’ll get criticized anyway (just not for writing). Silence makes it possible for them to write over you.
And then to erase you.
The way to deal with fear is to let yourself feel the fear: if you try to suppress it, it comes back stronger. Know that it’s in you but not of you, and you don’t have to let it stop you. Move with and through it like you’re driving through bad weather. When you start writing, the fear fades away.
Everybody needs her period of apprenticeship, and it will be longer and tougher and harder than you expect or want it. Embrace the struggle. Appreciate what it does for you.
The struggle transforms you into the writer that you need to be.
We are forged in creative fire. click to tweet
Your voice is like your avatar; it’s what readers wrap their sense of you around; it’s a set of ideas about who you are and what you represent; it’s what you say and how you say it.
This is the paradox: you must develop a strong and grounded sense of self, because you are whatever they say you are.
Your ultimate goal shouldn’t be to write for yourself or for an audience, or to find a compromise between the two. Compromise sucks. There’s a vanishing point, a sweetspot, where you and your audience become one and the same: writing for you is writing for them.
You want to find that spot.
You want to live there — and disappear there.
You develop your voice through reading all the time and writing all the time. (Reading is the inhale, writing is the exhale.) Let yourself gravitate to the writers who attract you, pull you in, because their work is showing you something of yourself. Let yourself imitate them, until you notice those spaces where you can’t help but do something different.
In those spaces, you start to make your own voice.
People don’t own ideas. They own the execution of those ideas. (Give the same idea to twenty different writers, and I’ll show you twenty different stories.) Execution is the hard part.
Writing lives in the body as well as the mind. It’s a lie, and a truth, and a lie that shows the truth.
Writing makes you whole. It shows people who you are. And then, as you grow toward mastery, it shows them who they are.