“If you wish to be a writer, write.” – Epictetus
I have been reading a lot of books, articles, and blogs on writing lately. I have also devoured hours and hours of podcast learning the craft. I figure if you are going to improve, find people that are better writers that have put in the years. Then listen to their advice and model what they are doing.
I have come to the conclusion that the best advice is usually the simplest piece of advice as well. I guess ol’ Occam was on to something.
What is the one piece of mind-blowing, life-changing advice that I have been able to distill all of this great wisdom down to…
Sit down and write.
Yep, that’s it. Pretty profound, right?
I know what you are probably thinking, because I thought the same thing. That’s just too simple. It is simple, but also quite effective. If you are going to be a writer, then you must write. Whether you write on a word-processor, an old manual typewriter, a stone tablet and chisel, or a pencil and a piece of paper, you have to put words down on that paper.
Find a place where you can write, shut out distractions. (I’m still working on this one as a husband and dad with a house full of homeschooled kids, a cat, and a dog running through the house.) So, find a place to write, cut out the distractions, set a word quota for the day, and unless your house is burning down, don’t get up from that chair until that quota is reached.
Another thing that I was able to glean from these writers is that writers are readers, and they read wide and deep. And, they read a lot. (I try to read about 3 books a week myself, and I usually have an audiobook that I am listening too as well.)
Most of the great writers have said they usually devote 4-6 hours a day to reading and writing. I know that seems like an unrealistic amount of time, but if we were to cut out many of the unproductive things and daily distractions like the time spent on social networking sites or watching another cat video on YouTube, or the next must-see episode of the latest, hottest TV drama, I imagine we would be surprised just how much time we waste each day.
Exercise: Your first (and only) writing assignment for this post – Write a list of 10 ways you can make or find time to write. Don’t stop until you have at least 10. If you can come up with more than 10, keep going until you have exhausted all possibilities, then try to think of one more. Make your brain sweat. It helps build the creative muscle in that noggin of yours.
Don’t let those numbers discourage you though. The most important thing is to start where you are, set aside some time, whatever is available to you, set a realistic daily word quota in place, find a corner to get in, and write.
One more piece of advice I was able to digest from them is to call yourself a writer. It will help you get in the right frame of mind. If you tell others that you a writer, most of the time they will ask you what you are writing. So, you write, if for no other reason, to be able to answer that question.
If you would like to tell the world that you are a writer, I would be happy for you to do it here in the comments below and let us know what you are writing.
So, if you still want to be a writer, grab your pen and paper, computer keyboard, or chisel and stone tablet, and sit down and start writing.
Bonus Tip: Maybe you don’t want to be a writer. Maybe you want to be a photographer, an artist, a video creator, etc. This little secret works like magic on those and other creative endeavors as well. If you want to be a photographer, grab your camera and photograph. If you want to be an artist, grab your pens, pencils, paintbrushes, paper, and make art. If you want to ….. I think you get the idea.
Now, go create, explore, and live.