Holy Toledo, Batman! I’ve been writing for a whole year now!
While a year may not seem like much to many people, it’s something pretty big for me. See, I quit a lot. The fact that I’ve stuck with one thing for this long, says a LOT to me. I may not be a New York Times best-selling author, or even a published author… yet. I’m far from having it all figured out. But I have learned a thing or two about writing. I thought I should share them because they’re pretty good, if I do say so myself.
1) We’re never going to get it perfect, or perfectly original.
And that’s okay. No, seriously. Think about it. Are you perfect? I know I’m not. So why on God’s good green Earth would you think that you can get your writing perfect? There are no original ideas, just perhaps the way that you choose to write it. Because what you are is original. Which brings me to my next point.
2) Just start.
Don’t over think it. The more you think about it, the more terrifying it becomes. It’s like jumping off that gigantic rock into the lake. You know the one, all the brave kids leap off it. You gotta take a running start and then leap off. Don’t walk to the edge, look down, and wonder if you might hit a rock at the bottom and die a horrible death. (Obviously, only jump off if you know there’s plenty of water down there. Be smart guys.)
But you know what I’m talking about. You stand there, toes curled over the edge and think Can I do it? Don’t. Nike the crap outta that jump. I’m right there with you. (This is coming from a girl terrified of heights.)
3) Show up and write every day.
You want to actually pursue this thing? Make it a career? Then treat it like one. Yeah it may be something you love, but if you don’t put it as a priority it will continue to be a hobby.
I realize this presents a different challenge for each person depending on what your life looks like. You have a day job? Write on your breaks. You have tiny kids who interrupt you every five seconds? Write at 5 am while it’s still dark out and the adorable little devils are sleeping. (That’s why I drink an energy potion every day made of magic beans.)
If you want it, make time for it.
4) Keep writing.
Even when you didn’t write yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that. Because life happened. And even when what you’re writing is rotting, smelly garbage. That garbage will decay and act as fertilizer to fuel future words to turn out as incredible as a flower that came out of manure. (Thank you, Natalie Goldberg for imparting that wisdom.)
Write, write, write. With pen and paper, on a napkin, use a laptop (even one that is crappy and ancient), use the notes app on your phone. Anything. Use anything, and just write.
5) It is never too late to pursue a new dream.
I know I’m not as old as some, but I’m older than others. And for years I felt like a failure for never being able to make up my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up. So, at 27…nearly 28, more grown up than I once was but not as mature as I will be someday, I decided to be a writer.
And while I have days where I’m literally banging my head on the table in frustration (which I don’t recommend…it doesn’t produce good ideas, just a bad headache) I also have many days where I am filled with excitement and purpose. Because I’m finally giving voice to my ridiculous fantasies and passions that before always left me feeling aimless.
Because…when you’re a writer you can be a teacher, a historian, a logophile, a bibliophile, a philosopher, an editor, an ancient warrior, a brilliant scientist, a super hero, a storyteller… and most importantly, 100% yourself.
So, if I can impart anything to you, I hope it’s the desire to keep fighting. Even when you fail. Even when you want to quit. Keep pursuing your dream. You’ll get there, if you push yourself. Remember, even the people you think are incredible, weren’t always where they are today. But they kept showing up, time and time again.