14 Things I Have Learned About Writing
One day, I found myself researching for the difference between an author and a writer. Oddly, the search was instigated by the category one had to choose when setting up an Instagram profile. I found both author and writer as a profile category. Suddenly, I found myself questioning: was I a writer or an author?
The online search brought me to different explanations; authors are self-oriented, while writers are service-oriented. If your work is unpublished you are considered a writer; once your work is published you are known as the author. A writer can be a columnist, a blogger, or ghost-writer. Confused, I identified myself as both. But Instagram required me to choose one category only. I opted for author.
Although published, hence an author, I regard myself as a writer also. As mentioned above, it’s true I am self-oriented; telling stories of what I want, or the way I want. My literary works aim to support humanitarian projects, inspire creativity, and impart moral and spiritual lessons.
As a writing inspirer, I see my responsibility as neither to seek fame nor bestseller spots so that aspiring writers can chase to meet or beat that success.
As a writer, I must focus on maintaining, passing and adding to the concept of my writing purpose so it lives on. My purpose is to write poetry and what others call children’s writing (I prefer to call it writing for people not limited by genre). I also find serenity in spiritual writing because writing is spiritual when exploring variety of experiences from life.
In this spirit, below are things I have learned about writing, which might inspire you as a writer, an author, or both.
- Nobody can teach you how to write. You will have to figure it out alone, maybe with the help of your imaginary friends. A good place to start is reading.
- Writing is about saying what’s in the silence: that which makes us quiver, fret, long, shameful, exposed, and unprotected.
- Writing fiction is telling the truth as imagination permits. Fiction is not a lie. Imagination is real and there is no falsehood in it.
- Words are fascinating. Trust them to lead you in the format in which they want to appear. Assuming you are an avid reader, there are days you will spend more time in the thesaurus than you will on your draft.
- Sometimes a prayer might help, until you notice that it isn’t holy, because it was written by you. This is fine, as you will have written a biblical poem.
- Anything long and badly written can be shortened to a good poem.
- Ideas will not come to you while writing. Go out and observe the world.
- You will consider drinking alcohol, or binging on sweets or caffeinated drinks to get rid of the easy excuse — writer’s block. You need to stop, get out, and look at the world again. Return to your creating space and write what you have seen, heard, smelled, touched, or tasted.
- You will not have time for friends and family. If you do, the best you will offer them as a token of your presence is staring. Some will find this rude. Others will be terrified of the possibility of being your next subject. Those who know you well and care about you will understand.
- Rejection letters will test your sanity. You will curse. You will lose self-confidence. You will stop to write. Hopefully, your madness will keep cropping up until you write again.
- Rejections are not bad. They are a testimony that you show up in writing.
- Be cautious of harsh reviews. Do not rush to respond. Wait until the next day. Re-read in case of valuable information. If you feel like responding, be rational and polite. Alternatively, follow the wisdom of not responding if you have nothing good to write back.
- You are a writer only when you are writing, and might be famous or not.
- When you can, serve through good deeds to help literary continuation through continuing, adding and inventing. Be courageous to invent a literary form or combine existing style with your own invention. Something as small as a minimal donation to the newsletter you love to read has a sizable impact on literary continuation.
These have been my basic lessons and observations on writing. They may work for you or not. If not, that’s fine; you should find out what works for you.
I trust you will keep writing no matter your circumstances. Allow me to end here, enjoy a cup of chai ya viungo (spiced tea) and toast your writing success.