5 Things I’ve Learned As a Writer
An inside peek into the dirty little secrets of being a writer.
I’ve been around the writerly block a few times. Okay, so more like a bajillion times, but who’s counting? Seventeen years and twelve books later, I’ve discovered I’ve learned a few things about being a writer…things no one ever warned me about.
1. You can’t hide behind the words.
Writers pound away heart-wrenching stories on a keyboard that wow a reader. No surprise there. That’s their job. The are-you-kidding-me moment comes when those readers and/or other writers expect you to speak. As in out loud. As in at the front of a group. Uh…here’s a newsflash: writers take a long time to think about their words as they write them. That can’t happen when speaking in front of a group. So be warned, newbie writers. At some point in time a microphone will be shoved in your face. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
2. You will develop a case of OCD.
You may like to think you’re a flexible person. Think again. Once you start signing contracts and publishers expect a manuscript handed in by a certain time, you’ll do everything in your power to birth that baby before the deadline. And the more deadlines you have, the more stress freaks you out. That’s when the OCD kicks in because you will develop a certain pattern in order to meet those daily word quotas. My quirks? I’ve got to have a Pilot G2 pen at hand (even though I’m typing on my MacBook—yes, it has to be a MacBook) along with 3 x 3 sticky notes next to the pen and let’s not forget the cedarwood incense and my cup of decaf coffee with heavy cream. If I don’t have those things, I can’t write.
3. Reading for enjoyment is a thing of the past.
Once you’ve experienced the editing process, in the format of you critiquing other’s work and in having your work critiqued, you will never look the same way at the printed word again. Repeated words will stand out to you. A missing bit of punctuation will make you want to punch somebody in the head. And heaven forbid an author head-hop from character to character.
4. You have to write whether you feel inspired or not.
As much fun as writing is, it’s a job. And just like any other job out there, there will be days when you want to play hooky. But you can’t. Not when you’ve got a contract to meet. Sooner or later you will have to pound out words even when you’re not feeling creative. It’s just the nature of the beast. Get over it. Yes, it can be done, and in fact is done all the time even by big-name authors.
5. You will become an expert at procrastination.
Despite all this talk about deadlines and cranking out work, the flip side of that is you will suddenly develop a great urge to visit sites like iwastesomuchtime or have a craving to re-watch every single episode of The Office before you tackle a new scene on your manuscript. It’s kind of like a disease, one you don’t want but can’t get rid of.
As I continue to write, I’m sure I’ll discover more tips to share. Stay tuned.