“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” Ernest Hemingway famously once said and how true is the sentiment of that statement!
As I prepare to sit down and start book number four (six if you include my little ebooks), I am reminded that I need to focus focus focus because that, my fellow writing buddies, is what creates a book. The art of writing does need some work. It doesn’t just happen and my office door will be tightly closed for a few months as I holler through the knocking that will take place on it, “I’m writing!!!”
So how do we keep the writing muscle flexed when we’re not on a writing project enabling us to some ‘writing resilience’ to carry us through when we need it? Here are some ideas:
- Carry a journal with you – everywhere! Make notes in it, draw in it, write down quotes or overheard conversations. This is where you can start to articulate your thoughts into the written word. This process helps you in so many ways through building your confidence, helping develop your awareness about what is important to you, creates a habit and forces you to use different parts of your brain.
- Nurture and develop a ‘tribe’. This will be a small group of people, who believe in you, who take your dreams and aspirations as seriously as you do and support you in moving forward. It’s not about removing people who don’t necessarily support your vision, but it will be soul destroying if these are the only voices that you hear around you; they are not your ‘tribe’ although they might be your closest friend or lover or family member.
- Practise your writing everyday….that’s how you get good! In that sense it’s no different to any other craft.
- Develop your own style rather than either a) trying to be what you think your audience wants you to be or b) copying someone else’s style. Be yourself and then the right people will be drawn to you.
- Use your tribe for feedback of your work. This is, in part, why your tribe has to be supportive, trusted and on hand.
- Learn to go with the creative flow. This can be tricky if you have time restraints due to a ‘day’ job and/or family commitments which leave you with fixed times in which to workor you have a ‘work’ mind set, so want to write in specified hours. All the writers I know, have times in the day that they work best, have ideas that need to be written down at obscure times and have times when nothing, absolutely nothing, is flowing. If it’s not happening, go for a walk, do something else, put it down.
- Learn to reflect. This has been one of the greatest gifts that I learnt while writing my first book. It is important to sit still and do nothing. Walking and swimming have been powerful spaces in my day. Swimming is incredible because I have so many ideas while I swim that I can neither record into my Blackberry or write down. So much of it is no use anyway so the ‘good’ stuff gets remembered long after I have clambered out from the pool!
- Allow yourself to be risky with your writing. If you’ve got something to say, say it but say it well. People want to read something challenging, something different, something that speaks to them.
- Take your personal and professional development seriously. Reading new books, going on workshops, meeting new people and having debates and discussions enhances your knowledge, inspires you and feeds the soul.
- As many have said before me, you will know when you are a writer; you are a writer when you say you are!
Focus Your Writing!