I’ve been a writer my entire life.
I just didn’t realize it.
That was until one fateful night, when the editor and chief of Scifibloggers.com contacted me and asked if I would write for him.
I was nervous to say the least, I hadn’t seriously written anything in years. My interest was computers, and I wanted to design video games. I warned him that I wasn’t any good, and that I didn’t think it was a good idea.
He persisted, and got me to write a simple article talking about the death of the eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who (an article that was later edited and posted on this very blog) as a test to see if I was good enough for the site.
It took me an hour to write that article, and I sent it off to him. Feeling nervous as hell, I awaited his judgement.
About twenty minutes later, he hired me on the spot.
Since then, it has been the ride of a lifetime. I went from a kid with only a minor idea about what I was going to do when I graduated, to an adult that writes for a living.
I’ve cried, I’ve jumped for joy, I’ve loved, and I’ve lost. It’s been the greatest year of my life. Just the fact that all of this happened in the span of only one year baffles me as I type this out.
So, with that in mind, I thought I would share with you the things I’ve learned over the course of this year; the lessons that being a writer/blogger/professional word-slinger has taught me.
Lesson #1: Everyone Loves A List Post.
In fact, I bet the reason half of you are reading this is simply because it’s a list.
List posts are popular because they are easy to read and utilize a numerical system to arbitrarily rank something that inherently cannot have a rank.
It’s a combination of two of people’s favorite things.
Also, as an added benefit, it’s incredibly fun to write. Hell, entire websites sprang up just to create top ten lists. If you want your blog to succeed, I cannot stress the importance of it. It’s just a great way to get likes/views/shares on a blog post (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
Lesson #2: Writing about Writing is (W)right.
Just like how everyone loves a list post, people love reading about writing. You literally can’t take more than a step into the WordPress Archives without finding someone offering advice on how to write. It is an intensely popular subject, and everyone has their own take on how to do it.
And I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. When I started out I read hundreds of articles on the various facets of the written word and now I find myself creating my own.
We, as writers, are always so excited about our work that it starts to dribble into everything we do. We just want to scream at the heavens that we are WRITERS. And when our friends and family get incredibly sick of only hearing about the job, we’re forced (yes, forced) to put it anywhere we can.
Or else we might explode.
Lesson #3: Inspiration can come from anywhere, and we shouldn’t get embarrassed about that.
In preparation for writing this article, I danced around my living room air-guitaring to the song “The Middle” by Jimmy Eats World. I am not ashamed to tell you that, because I realized: we are artists, and we all have to do strange things to get into the writing mood. Some people can only write in the morning, some only during rainstorms, and some only while upside-down.
We writers are strange creatures, and writing is– contrary to popular opinion– not an easy job. We can use all the help we can get.
So don’t get ashamed of your creative process. Learn to fit it into your schedule, make sure you warn the people around you, but never, ever let your process be a source of shame.
You’re an artist, God damn it! We create culture, and lift the souls of men. We are the most important people in this world.
Act like it.
Lesson #4: Money means survival, but that’s all.
Okay, so money is important. It lets us buy stuff. It makes it so we can have a house, food and medicine. I’m not saying that it doesn’t have its place.
What I am saying is that if you went into the writing game expecting to make millions off your erotica, or become the next John Green or J.K. Rowling, then you’re in the wrong game friendo.
If you’re expecting “fame and fortune” to fall upon you, get the hell out. This job is not about that; it’s about art. The second I feel like I’m only doing this to make a quick buck, kill me, because I’m already dead.
Lesson #5: Everyone wants to be a writer.
I mean everyone. I have yet to meet a person who does not want to write a book. Kids who have never written a word in their lives tell me that they want to become a writer when they grow up. It’s a bit annoying if I’m being honest. I know I shouldn’t, but I get offended by statements like that. They seem to think that they can just pick up a pen and become the next E.L. James.
But, then I remember the difference between us and them.
We write every day. We finish our projects. We create books and stories. In fact, I think the main difference is that we put our money where our mouth is.
I suppose it’s that way for everything really.
Lesson #6: It’s okay to take a break.
I don’t use the term “Writer’s Block” very often. I don’t really believe in it. What I do believe in is “Writer Burnout”. A person really only has so much brain power they can use a day, and writing burns up a lot. Sometimes you just shut down, and that’s okay. I used to be afraid that moments like that meant that I wasn’t meant to be a writer; that I would run out of ideas after a year, and be left adrift in this world.
No, I was just burnt out. I used up all the words that I had in my head. I just needed to go get some more. I watched some television, I read a book, and I got some sleep, and it all came back.
Writing is an art, but it is also a job. So let yourself have a break.
Lesson #7: Loneliness can hurt.
Being a writer is an inherently lonely job. We can’t really do it if someone else is around, and because it’s our job, we have to do it all the time. That combination makes for a lot of time without human contact.
That can hurt…a lot. There is a reason that humans are a social creature. We are not meant to go long periods without any one else. So, find people, talk to people. Even if the only ones around are your roommates, or your friends online, do it. We chose a lonely job, but that does not mean we need to become hermits.
Lesson #8: Don’t idolize the crazy writer.
When I started this gig, I looked at the neurotic writers of old and idolized them. They marched to the beat of their own drums; they lived a life removed from the pettiness of the world. I romanticized that lifestyle.
Now I have that lifestyle, and I’ve learned that it is not something you should aspire towards. “Accept it” might be a better choice of words. Writers are weird, crazy people. We can’t help it. We don’t really have a choice in the matter. But if I could, I would go back and tell past-me to enjoy his moments of lucidity, because once you go writer, you never go back.
Lesson #9: Being a writer is an art, then a job.
Despite what I said about money not being important, artist still need to get paid. You can be as creative and special as you want, but once your done creating, you need to sell that creation… like sell it for actual money.
Talking about being an artist is all well and good, but a deadline is a deadline, and an assignment is assignment. If you need to write an article by a certain time, then you get it done.
You get the privilege of being an artist for a living, so don’t complain about having to work.
Did you like the article? Dislike? Tell me about it in the comments. I would love to hear your opinions! If interested in specific articles, or want to write as a guest, you can message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!
I have suffered from an overwhelming sense of guilt for having “writer’s block” for years. Thank you for sharing!
You’re welcome! I’m glad the article helped! 🙂
Really nice observations on the writing life. Good luck to you!
This one’s a keeper – thanks!
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You’re welcome, glad you like it!