Ten things I have learned about being a writer (so far)

#1 There is no such thing as ready to write. If you wait for the right mood, idea, or time, you will write very little. The secret to writing…is just to write. Write anything. Write poetry, write short story lines, write journal posts about how you really wish you were writing your book which isn’t currently being written due to procrastination or whatever is preventing it. (Huff)

Write. Just write. Sounds simple right? The thing is, it is simple. Its getting into a habit that matters. Just typing will lead you into that euphoric phase where you suddenly look up and realize 4 hours have passed and something seems to have magically appeared on the computer screen.  The “something” that appears may be complete junk, but it lives. By gosh! You wrote something.

#2 The first draft isn’t about making anything perfect. It doesn’t need to be spelled correctly, phrased properly, or even be completely legible to anyone but you. The first draft (at least in my experience) is a race against your mind and your fingers. It’s trying to get it all down on paper before the amazing inspiration putters out. Trying to capture the phrasing that just slipped into place as you were washing dishes and “OMG…Someone give me a pen quick before I lose the wording” The first draft is the CAPTURE the second draft is The POLISH.

#3 Your characters are not going to let you stay in control. Nope. Nuh-uh! You go ahead and try and make that character do something they don’t want  or that doesn’t match their nature, and see what happens.  (If you are a real writer you just F-ing nodded.) It sounds nuts, but planning out what you want to happen rarely ends with it happening the way you thought it would. Why? Because the act of writing creates ideas and stimulates story while you are doing it. It’s like trying to drive with someone else steering the wheel while you shout (sometimes very loudly) that you wanted to go left back there. The story just rolls his eyes and says “Trust me..this way is soo much better than what you had planned.” The freakiest thing about it is…it works… if you go with it.

Don’t fight the flow!

#4 You need people. Lots of people. People force you to keep going, because they ask if you are DONE yet or when you are going to let them read more (if you are truly lucky). They strengthen your resolve, call you all kinds of awesome and gently let you know that 3-4 pages discussing the color, design, and cut of a certain characters dress is probably a little too much detail. In other words They support your dream, even when you don’t. Yay for people!

#5 Selling your work is recognition that you wrote well, not the reason to write. If you plan to write only to sell books give up now. Abandon all hope, Ye who enter here! Writing can become lucrative, eventually..but that’s after years of not selling diddly. The ones who become lucrative are the stubborn Bastards..you know, the ones who write because they can’t NOT write.

If you are looking to be a famous writer from the first book you are DOOMED. Books don’t work that way. If all you want is money you will get really really bored with writing once it gets hard. You will get mad at the characters for being too much, or not enough. You will compromise your voice for cheap fodder that sells instead of completes. You will not develop layers for your creation. You will take short-term and easy outs..and even if you are comfortable with that, your readers won’t be. Readers can sniff out a committed writer from one that just wants the book done so they can cash in. Trust me. They are not gentle with their words if the writer let’s them down.

#6 You will research things you never even considered researching before. Things that people will think you have a screw loose for asking like “What would happen to the environment if the sun and moon both rotated around the planet earth in opposite and opposing directions?” or what “vegetation can grow at below freezing temperatures?” I had to figure out whether or not a mouse can eat chocolate or, if they completely get sick if they do..like dogs and cats. (The answer, in case you wondered, is they not only can, they like it way more than cheese!)

#7 You really need to understand contracts. If you don’t research contracts you will get taken to the cleaners by a slick negotiator. I have heard this from my writer friends. There is a reason people get lawyers to look over their proposed contracts. At the very least go here and read the entire article. You’re welcome.

#8 Enjoy the small stuff. Celebrate each chapter completed. Have fun choosing your new pen name. Daydream about the fun of meeting fans and signing books. These are the perks and the things that make the work worthwhile. Enjoy the journey..not just the destination. Make small moments count, they help get you to the end.

#9 You think it will take a few months to write a book. Hahahahaha….

Years. It will take years. If it only takes a few months, I promise your book probably sucks, (or…at the very least, needs more content.) A true story gets better over time. Walk away from it and then return. The creation of something takes time to become. Like a conversation, you just can’t hog the whole thing, it is an active participation. The book wants to bake and you can’t hurry good.

#10 There is no such thing as only one project in the works. Nope. Creativity likes shoving ideas that don’t work on THIS book into your brain. Maybe this one is only me..but..I can’t write only one book at a time. When my brain needs a break from this current book I generally find myself doing a book that is absolutely different than the one I am currently working.  I don’t get writers block and my brain gets something new to work on.

That’s my list so far. I’m not published yet, so I’m certain to get more as I go on.