10 Things I Learned In My First Year As A Writer
It’s been just over a year since I left my corporate job to follow my dream of writing. Here are a few things I have learned in this chapter of my life.
1- Writing Is Not For The Faint Of Heart
There are days that writing comes easy, and then there are the days I wonder what I was thinking.
Dreaming is easy, but following those dreams, well that is the hard part.
One of the most important discoveries I’ve made is that it’s a lot harder to run from your dreams than follow them.
Dreams may be silent at times, but they tend to chase you until they have an outlet.
2- Write To Express, Not Impress
Writing for the right reasons is of utmost importance. If we write for fame and fortune, there may be many nights you feel like a failure.
We can take pressure off ourselves by understanding that readers choose what to read based on their personal preferences.
Some will connect with our words while others will scroll right past, so it’s important to know the why before we can begin the how.
3- Stephen King Gives Great Advice
In his book On Writing Mr. King says: “to be a writer you must read …. a lot.”
There is no shortcut here, trust me I’ve tried to cheat the system, and it doesn’t work.
I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, but since I started writing, stories jump off the page into my soul like never before and I can feel the pulse of the words as they breathe life into my writer’s heart.
4- Being Vulnerable Creates The Best Pieces
Some of my best writings have been blogs I wrote quickly, but they came from the depths of my heart.
There have been times I write only to post something, and boy, can I tell the difference by the response (or lack thereof) from my audience.
Writing from the heart is of utmost importance.
5- Surround Yourself With Other Writers
This is hard for an introvert, but it is necessary.
I attended my first writer’s retreat in April through a group called Ninja Writers.
The conference was out of my time zone and comfort zone, but it was the first interaction I have had with other writers where I didn’t feel like an impostor.
6- Critiques and Criticism Are Not The Same
Ruffling a new writer’s feathers is easy, at least it was for me. But it didn’t take long for me to realize I was allowing my own insecurities to affect me.
Critiquing the writing is not a criticism of you.
The key to communication is listening to understand, not to respond.
As we take time to process what’s been shared or suggested, we discover most people want us to succeed as much as we want it.
While critiques can hurt at times, it is in those moments we can grow the most in this writing world.
7- Write First, Edit Later
I’ve heard this from the moment I opened the book into the writing world but only recently implemented it in my writing routine and it has made a huge difference in the progress I make in reaching my writing goals.
Writer’s don’t need more interference when we sit down to write. Nothing is more distracting than your inner editor taking charge and bringing your fingers to a sudden stop.
So relax and remember, every writer has their ‘shitty first draft’ and even a few more after that before sending it to an editor.
8- Name Your Inner Critic
While every item in this post is valuable, this by far has to be the one that has made the most impact in my first year of writing.
My inner critic was a screamer, a finger pointer, a total Debbie Downer anytime I sat in front of my computer to write.
She paralyzed me when it came to hitting the publish button, and she followed me in my dreams at night, telling me I was a fraud.
That is until a fellow writer said she had named her inner critic.
When we name our inner critic, it loses some of its power and limits the control it has on our minds. It allows us to see it for what it is and quickly take control on the negativity it tries to project.
9- Don’t Aspire To Be A Writer
Being an aspiring writer means you are hopeful to one day be a writer. Aspirations are great, but don’t let them stop there.
Having a dream is the start of your chapter, but dreams don’t work unless you do.
Thanks to Jeff Goins and my son-in-law their kick in the butt showed me that to be a writer, I must start acting like one. My son-in-law sent me a link to Jeff’s book You Are A Writer. (So Start ACTING Like One.)
10- The More You Write, The Better You’ll Get
I wrote my first children’s book, 20 years ago, tucked it in a drawer and hoped one day to publish it. Last year I took it out, dusted it off, and after reading through it, I thought “What the hell is this?”
Reading the manuscript was painful. The story was full of holes and lacked entertainment and about the only thing it was good for was putting anyone who read it to sleep.
But it was a starting point, and after several months, I expanded and developed the story-line to what it is today. And thanks to my editor, she has polished and fine tuned it, so it’s ready to publish which leads me to the next chapter in this dream of mine.
The past year has been one of the best years of my career, and the exciting thing is, it’s just the beginning.
And now, let me encourage you.
Whatever your passion is, whatever you’ve dreamed of doing, take the first step and see where you are in a year.
I have a feeling if you’re like me, you will be pleasantly surprised.
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KatieMae is a writer, encourager and believes in the power of kindness. She lives in Washington state with her husband and their three dachshunds. You can find her on Twitter @Katiemaeonline, or her website http://www.katiemae.online . Her first children’s book is scheduled to be released in 2017.