1. Always Be Writing
There is a scene in Glengarry Glen Ross where Alec Baldwin writes, in big block letters on a blackboard, ABC Always Be Closing. While one can take offense to the language in the scene, or perhaps even Mr. Baldwin himself, there is a similar sentiment that I’ve found is critical for my growth as a writer: ABW, always be writing. Most writers who write for a living will tell you that they have some goal for daily writing. Mine is 5000 words. If I hit that goal each day, every day, I know I’m doing well. Some days it comes easily and I sail right past my goal. Some days, I have to struggle to reach it. Either way, I’m writing every day. If I’m not writing every day, it means that there’s something wrong and I need to check my priorities and my motivation.
“Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating, by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writers make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road he wants to go. I would only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.” ~ Ray Bradbury
2. There Is No Such Thing As Writers Block
I take a lot of heat for this statement, but I firmly believe that there is no such thing as writers block. I think that you can stall on a story, or an idea, and not have anything to say about it, but that’s not the same as having writers block. If you hit a stall, that’s your sign to move onto something new or different. Stalled out writing a horror? Take your main character and put them in a comedy. Stalled out on a dystopian thriller? Take your antagonist and put them in a shopping mall on a Sunday morning. Sometimes exploring the ridiculous helps. This goes along with my first tip. Always be writing, even if what you’re writing seems silly or unconventional. You’ll be surprised where your best ideas come from. Ill say it again and prepare for the flood of hate mail: there is no such thing as writers block. Writers block is a convenient scapegoat to use when you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing: writing.
3. Take Your Medicine & Grow From It
No matter who you are, no matter what you write, there is going to be someone, somewhere, who hates what you’ve endeavored to create. You’re going to get some negative reviews. Some of them are going to be brutal. Prepare yourself mentally for the criticism, allow yourself a single moment to feel the sting, then get up, brush yourself off, and move on. No one likes to be criticized, least of all authors, who often pour their heart and soul into the works they create. It hurts when someone tears that down, but its going to happen, so you’re better off accepting that fact at the outset. Sometimes, the people who hate your work will tell you WHY they hated it. This is invaluable information to have. It may be something you want to look toward changing. It may not. Either way, you’ve been given feedback about your work and that is how you grow as a writer.
4. Don’t Take Things Too Seriously
A writer, particularly an independent writer, needs to hone their ability to laugh at themselves. Sometimes, things are just going to go horribly wrong. You’re going to write something that stinks. You’re going to get a bad review. You’re going to accidentally delete a months worth of backups of the story you’ve been working on. Things go wrong. As long as you can take them in stride and with a sense of humor, you’ll be ahead of those who take things so seriously that they have no wiggle room for when the unexpected and unfortunate happens.
5. The Golden Rule
Treat others, particularly other independent writers, the way you’d want them to treat you. The more we, as a group, succeed, the closer we come to forcing a change in the paradigm of traditional publishing. It behooves us to help our fellow authors find success. There are millions of people out there who are looking for good content. It is up to us, as writers, to produce the best, most professional content we can and provide to our consumers. If you have tips or tricks that could help out your fellow authors, don’t be bashful about sharing them.
As I said. There is no master plan for success as a writer. Sometimes its a struggle, but it doesnt have to be a lonely one engage your fellow authors and enjoy their company on the journey.
I hope these tips help someone out.