The Biggest Things I’ve Learned from Writing

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Raise your hand if you read every article you see online about how to be a better writer. *raises both my hands and hops up and down*

I can’t help it. I’m always hoping I’ll find that magical article that will suddenly make writing a simple task. Hahaha. Then I remember there isn’t such a thing. But, little things you pick up along the way do help. Here are the things that have helped me the last six years. I’m not saying they’ll help anyone else. Writers are strange birds, and we all excel with different strategies and routines. Still, here are the lessons I’ve learned, (some more than once) that stick with me.

In no particular order:

  1. You really do learn more about how to write and tell a story well from reading. Read, read, read.
  2. Keep your eyes on your own goals, because the talent out there is endless. There will always be someone more successful, more talented, on a faster track to getting where they’re going. You’ll be so much happier if you can celebrate other people’s successes than if you’re comparing. Comparisons are fruitless and a waste of energy that’s better spent on improving yourself.
  3. You can always get better at craft and execution. You’ll never be done. That’s what critique partners and editors are for, because no one person can possibly see every mistake or plot hole. Buckle up and put on your helmet, because those humbling moments of how to fix a draft and do it better come at you fast.
  4. Text yourself or jot down those inklings and ideas when you get them. Note your ideas even if it’s after midnight, because you’ll forget them if you don’t.
  5. Writer friends who are willing to take time out of their day to honestly and kindly critique your drafts are rare and valuable creatures. Appreciate them. And listen. They’re there to help.
  6. Playlists set the tone.
  7. People in your regular life might not get why you do it. That’s okay. Do it because you love it.
  8. There is an absolute payoff in writing the things that challenge or scare you. You will grow from it, and there’s nothing like cultivating your own voice by trying something new.
  9. You can write your pants off, and throw your heart and time into a story. It will still not be everyone’s cup of tea. But tough cookies. That’s the way artistic expression goes.
  10. Reviews and criticisms can help you grow, but learn to tell the difference between what will help you and what is one person’s opinion. Respect a reader’s right to their opinion without letting the negative overwhelm you or hold you back.
  11. Coffee and snacks are great bribes when you are blocked. You’re going to get hungry if you stare at the computer screen for long enough.
  12. All advice is just that. What works for someone else might not work for you. Writing is hard, and it is work. But you should love it and enjoy yourself in the midst of all those edits and outlines. So do you. You’ll never regret it if you find joy in the process.


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2 Comments on "The Biggest Things I’ve Learned from Writing"

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Great points – it’s easy to forget sometimes :/
Many people think of writing as a solo art, and that’s just not true. I’d be lost without my writer friends and colleagues.