1) Start Calling Yourself A Writer
In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, ‘If when you wake up in the morning you can think of nothing but writing, then you’re a writer.’
If you woke up thinking about writing before turning up to do your thing this morning, you are a writer. If you turned up yesterday morning – and countless mornings before – you are a writer. One morning, I woke up thinking I must be a lavatory attendant – but we won’t go into that…
If you commit yourself to write most days then you already ARE a writer. You won’t believe how many writers are afraid to utter those words out loud. They label themselves ‘aspiring writers.’ I abhor that term. WTF is an ‘aspiring’ writer? Are you writing or just thinking about writing? If you turn up each day to write, even if the publishing industry has rejected everything you have put out there, you are a writer. Start saying it. Believe it. Because that is what you ARE. MORE: Lucy V’s Wager: Build It And They Will Come
2) Don’t Let The Fear In
Procrastination is a terrible thing, and for writers it is often born out of fear and perfectionism. Recently I stumbled in to a place I don’t like to go too often. It is a place that can make writers feel stroked with a velvet glove one second and slapped in the face with a wet fish the next. It’s called ‘Goodreads’.
I went because someone sent me a link to a lovely review of my debut novel, ‘The New Mrs D’ and, despite telling myself I wouldn’t ever do this; I clicked on the ‘read reviews’ link to see the rest after I’d finished reading the nice one I’d been alerted to. Then I spent an entire morning having to battle with doubt over my current work in progress, all because I kept seeing the words, ‘yawn,’ ‘unfunny’ and ‘couldn’t finish this’. They were imprinted on my brain like the floating purpleness you get in front of your eyes after somebody takes your photo with the flash on.
So listen up to the speech I give myself often: You can’t please everybody, and you can’t appeal to everyone’s tastes. And remember that to go against the passion in your life because the fear that some people won’t ‘get it’ is going to hurt much, much more in the long run.
Perfectionism and fear are standing over the door to your success asking for ID before it will let you in. Your creativity and individuality is all the ID you need. Tell it to step aside. MORE: How to make it happen for your writing career
3) Don’t Waste Time Comparing Yourself to Other Writers
Take a look at the top you have on this morning. See a Shakespearean ruff? Thou art NOT Shakespeare and thou shalt be thankful. He is dead after all…
If you have read a thousand books and thought, ‘why can’t I write like that?’ then guess what? You are unique. You can’t be every writer and you can’t afford to waste time wishing that you were or trying to be like them. Ditch the author comparison websites you’ve been compiling in your mind. If no one ever wrote anything original, there would be less originality out there. This is your moment; your work. Own it, be proud of it and embrace the fact that all of us are different and there are enough hungry readers in the world to go around. And some of them even hate Shakespeare. MORE: 4 Things Writers Should Stop Expecting – And 1 Thing You Can Do About It
4) Set Aside Time Each Day To Write and Stick to it
Switch off your mobile phone notifications; resist the urge to answer the tweet thanking you for your retweet with a smiley face emoticon and lock yourself in a room with your computer/laptop/pencil/quill. This is your time. Use it productively and I refer you back to point 2 – leave perfectionism outside. First drafts are almost always terrible, the real magic happens on the rewrites.
I have a little section of edits I keep and file under ‘it will be alright on the rewrite’. It’s like a writer’s outtakes department and has given me many a laugh on bad days.
Allow yourself to write away and don’t stop to edit until you’ve typed ‘the end’. Then it’s red pen ago-go. You may never finish if you continue to step on the reverse gear. MORE: 10 Tips To Be A Productive Writer
5) Remember, It’s Not The End Until The Fat Lady Sings
On my chosen writer journey, well, The New Mrs D got twelve publisher rejections and was labelled, ‘unmarketable’. So I self-published. Then, for one day on Amazon Australia this happened:
You bet your LIFE I took a screen print.
Hold on tight to that dream and don’t let go, even if at the end of it all you can’t find an agent and nobody wants to sign a deal. There are many ways to publish and many free marketing platforms out there to help you bring your work out into the world. Make them prise that writer dream from your cold, dead fingers after you died with a smile on your face because you did it. You tried. MORE: Making It As A Writer: 25 Reasons You Haven’t Yet