Dear fledgling writer-self,
What words of “wisdom” can I impart to you, now that I’m a bit further down the writer’s road?
Read voraciously. Read like you did when you were a kid, devouring every book in sight like a ravenous werewolf.
Have adventures—both on and off the page—because without adventure there’s no fuel for the creative spirit. Seriously, adventure is as good for your creative spirit as calcium is for your bones. Also: Drink more milk.
Don’t worry too much about “finding yourself.” The self is like a kaleidoscope; one slight twist and the shapes and colors rearrange themselves. In time you will find that the self isn’t discovered, but created through meaningful action.
Don’t worry too much, either, about how many words you’re writing, how that stacks up against how many words other writers are writing or even how many words you wrote last week, last month, or last year. Everyone is different, and you will change and shift and grow beyond old methods. Let that change happen. Just like adventure, it’s necessary and good for you.
Learn patience, and accept that publication is only one part of the journey—it’s not the destination, just one milestone on the writer’s road. Be kind to yourself, and be patient as your process develops. Remember this quote: “It doesn’t matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”
Write. Words will fall like raindrops from your pen. Some days a fine mist of words, other days a steady beat like summer rain on a tin roof. Still other days will bring a downpour of words crashing down by the bucketful, so quickly you’ll wonder how you’ll ever keep up.
Other times, it will be a slow process, tediously slow, and you’ll wonder if it’s ever going to rain again. During these times, be kind to yourself. Have an adventure. Pick up a paintbrush. Go bird-watching. Dance to “Walking on Sunshine.” Read a picture book. Gaze at the stars; write the moon a love letter. The words will return, but they need a little space sometimes—and so do you.
Disregard those myths you hear about writers. We are all at our most productive when we are happy, healthy, and well-nourished—body, mind, and soul. Everyone has something to contribute to the myth of the artist—that they’re drunks, addicts, insane, unhappy, broke, struggling, flaky, etc. Ignore it. Put as much emphasis as you can on your own well-being and your art will flourish. Remember that where the artist flourishes, so, too, does the art.
Most of all, remember that it takes time to discover your voice and to master the craft of storytelling. Don’t feel rushed by people who expect your first manuscript to be published a year after it’s written. The reality is that establishing your path will take years, but you have to believe that it’s worth it. Your art and the drive to create it are more than a mere dream; the writer’s road is a calling, a blessing, a gift.
Oh, and did I mention the importance of learning patience?
Slightly older, slightly more patient writer-self
ROW80 midweek check-in
- Finish the second draft of the novella I finished in Round 1, Good Old-Fashioned Magic. Working my way through a “quick read,” reading the manuscript on my Kindle and taking notes.
2.) Read 4 books on the craft/business of writing. Finished Cathy Yardley’s “Rock Your Revisions.” Going to continue reading Stephen King’s “On Writing.”
3.) Social media:
- Check in on Twitter daily. On target.
- Comment on 3-5 blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On target.
- Blog 2 times a week. On target.
What would you tell yourself if you came face-to-face with yourself as a new writer? What has most surprised you on the writer’s road? What would your letter say? How are your goals for this week coming along?