Alright folks, back by popular demand, the latest installment of Things Writers Shouldn’t Do!
Part 1. covered three basic tips. Don’t Punish Yourself, Don’t Write Like Your Favorites, and Don’t Get Mad At Criticism. If you need to refresh your memory, or started here at Part. 2 by accident, you can head here for the article.
For Part 2. I’ve selected a few more things that I think are incredibly important to remember as you grow into the successful author I know you all will be. As I’ve said before, there are no fool proof systems for the writing process, these are just a few of the tips I’ve found useful in my own little world of story creation. If they aren’t working for you, adapt or eliminate them as you see fit. I only ask that you give them the good ol’ college try. You never know what may help you improve!
Don’t Get Stuck On A Story – We’ve all been there a thousand times. The words were spewing onto the page faster than that time you got food poisoning from the burger joint around the corner, and you’ve got your sights on the prize. Everything’s been falling into line and life couldn’t be better, and then, OF COURSE, the pistons of your creative machine seize up and your story comes to a screeching halt. Do not, under any circumstances, obsess over it. Yes, you want to get the story written. Yes, you have devoted so much time and energy to it, but these are not reasons to waste the good hours of your day being creatively unproductive.
Move on to something else. Start something else you’ve been thinking about. Work on another short story or start on that other novel you’ve been tossing around in your head. Often times it’s just a shift in mindset to another piece of creative work that can hurdle us over the boundaries of any writers block we’ve encountered. If you keep your creative gears in motion, no matter what they’re focused on, the words will come to you. Don’t allow yourself to waste any single moment of creativity on the pursuit of something futile. Walk away and come back to it later, you’ll find what you’re looking for when it comes.
Don’t Get Stuck In Your Head – Here’s another one of those tips that is so simple that it slips through one ear and out the other. Yea, we all know we need to get up and leave the house now and then, but how many of us actually leave our heads, when we leave our homes. I mean, how many of you are out there viewing the world as a story, every minute that you live it, rather than keeping yourself stuck inside that noggin of yours. You might be commingling with the people that surround you, but too often we find ourselves stuck in our own thoughts rather than experiencing all the gems of creativity and inspiration that the rest of the world has to offer.
Find the stories in the people around you. They don’t all have to start in your mind, they can come from anything. The girl from the Quick Check just had an argument with a customer over the quality of their 2 dollar chicken nuggets. That’s a story. The customer apologized and left. That too is a story. Once you’ve got that foundation, no matter how boring it is, challenge yourself to make it exciting. Build up these foundational pieces as you traverse through the world around you , AND THEN, when you’ve gone home, get back in your head and work them out.
Don’t Write To Be The Next Big Thing – A broader version of Part 1‘s tip, Don’t Write Like Your Favorites, this time, we are focused on the overall goal of your writing. I absolutely believe that each and every one of you should be focused on publishing. I want more than anything for you all to feel the exhilarating rush of excitement that you have after your first words are printed and talked about by an intended audience.
However, while goals like publishing are important, it’s even more important to be realistic about the goals that you set for yourself. As a child, setting a lofty goal of becoming an astronaut, or the President Of The United States, is great! The hopes and excitement you get from picturing yourself as someone you perceive to be of true amazement, is integral in our development. As we get older though, we must be more aware of the fragility of our emotions and the reality of our lives.
Not all of us can or will be famous. We can’t and won’t all be amazing, or even make a dime in the business of writing. But, by setting goals that are more realistic, such as publishing a short in a magazine, or self-publishing your novel etc, you can allow yourself the wins you need to be confident in your own abilities, without crushing yourself for having missed your goal of being the next Stephen King. Write because you love to write. That should be your main goal. Of course, someone that reads this WILL be the next Stephen King, but you will know when your goals are achievable. Just set them accordingly and you’ll be much happier in the long run.
I know this one will be controversial…but I’m not telling you not to set your eyes to the stars, just don’t reach for the moon if you know you’ll never have a rocket ship to get there.
Write on Writers!
If you’ve enjoyed these tips and would like to share how they’ve helped you out, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear about it!
Stay tuned for Part 3. in the near future, and again, Part 1. if you missed it.