How does one become a writer? Do you just wake up one day and you are magically endowed with writing ability? Of course not! Some people are naturally gifted with words while others have to work at it harder, but practicing on a regular basis and striving to learn more separate the wanna-be from the real thing.
Here are a few suggestions to help you keep writing all your life.
Set aside a time each day to practice your craft You will be more productive if you give your mind a certain span of time each day to create. Whether it is thirty minutes or three hours doesn’t matter, it is a writing habit you are forming. Some days you will write better than others, but you will be writing—that’s the point.
Use every spare minute to generate new ideas Let writing permeate your life. By now you have set aside a certain time each day to write, but is that enough? Be aware as you go about your daily life for opportunities to write about what you see and hear. The person who collects something interesting, a different kind of museum down the street—the opportunities are endless if you are aware of your surroundings. Get a tablet you can take with you and jot these ideas down as they occur.
Be systematic in yourkeeping of records Whether you are sending out manuscripts or just keeping track of what you write about, do it in a methodical way. I use a 3x5 card box for my submissions with the name of the publisher and all appropriate information about them, then I list below what manuscript I have sent to them.
Another method I use on my computer is to allot one computer folder for all the articles I am working on. Then, as I send them out, I paste the article into a folder with the publisher’s name on it. This is a backup in case my computer is on the fritz one day. You probably know what that is like.
Give each item a tentative title Let’s say you don’t even have an article yet, just an idea. Put the title at the top of the page along with your contact information, then you have a start already on your idea, not just a scary blank page. You can jot down ideas when you have the time, and gradually mold your idea into its final form.
Deal with distractions Avoid having a phone close by if you can help it. If people don’t respect your time while you are writing, tell them you will call them back later. The more you allow to happen while you are writing, the less you will write. Treat your writing time like a job. You must use this time wisely or you will be unproductive and frustrated.
Procrastination—your worst enemy You are the only one who can discipline yourself to do what you have set out to accomplish—become a writer. If you let yourself fall into the trap of procrastination then you will have nothing but broken dreams at the end of your life. Treat procrastination as an enemy, and don’t allow it to consume your valuable time and resources.
Don’t go overboard one way or the other Legalism of having to do something is just as bad as laxity. Remember, you must be disciplined but have fun doing it. Allow yourself flexibility and time to relax during the day and especially when you are writing. The ideas will flow much better when you are relaxed than when you are tense with the problems of the day. Perhaps, take a walk before you start writing or do some exercises or whatever it takes to get you in the freame of mind to get your ideas from your mind onto paper.
Edit over a span of time Don’t try to edit what you have written all at once. Come back to it over the course of several days because you will do a better job of finding mistakes. If you try to do your editing all at once, you may miss a lot of errors due to fatigue or tiredness. You may also find new ways to express your thoughts by doing it in this manner. It doesn’t hurt to let others look over your work as long as they are honest in their help.
Now let’s examine some of the common excuses people use for not writing:
Too much is going on in my life There are always going to be things going on in your life. You can write from the experiences you are going through perhaps to help someone else.
I have nothing to write about At first, it can be hard to get your thoughts on paper. But the more you prime your mind to write and watch for subjects to write about, the more you will be able to write. Whether you are writing, inventing or any endeavor in life, you must take small steps before you can accomplish large ones. Read the biographies of famous people and you will find this to be true.
I don’t have enough time to write There are only twenty-four hours in a day or anyone. Sometimes we must rearrange our schedules and evaluate how we are spending our time. Try writing down everything you do each day, no matter how small, for a week. This will help you analyze how you are spending your time.
My friends and family aren’t supportive If you wait for people to embrace what you are doing, you may have to wait a long time. Look back through history: Galileo, Newton, Columbus, and too many others to name—their ideas were new to their time in history. They suffered greatly because of what they believed, even after they were proved right. Are you going to let people dictate your life to you? Whenever you are doing something different there will always be difficulties to overcome.
Being a writer is a lifelong process. There are many opportunities on the internet to enhance what you already know to make it better. Be wise in your search, ask a lot of questions before you plunk down your money. Enjoy yourself above all, because writing is one of the greatest professions known to man. Keep encouraging yourself, always striving to learn more about the craft you have chosen. Then you can truly say---“I am a writer, and proud of it”.
Read more articles by Dan Langerock or search for articles on the same topic or others.