Most of the time, writing feels like a mystery to me. I don’t know why it works some days. I don’t know why it doesn’t work others. I don’t know where ideas come from. And just when I think I have developed a writing process, or honed some hard and fast rules about how to structure my working life, I change them, most often to suit whatever I’d rather be doing at that particular moment.
But I do have two suggestions for those who want to write; two things that help me get the work done.
1. Find some quiet.
I’m writing this post about writing while sitting on the porch of a tiny cabin in Yosemite National Park. I have no Internet access. It’s lucky I have an outlet to charge the laptop on which I am writing this post about writing.
Though this is not a place I can get to regularly (the drive is long and winding and also, you know, there are things to attend to back in the real world) I believe that writing should be done on a porch of a tiny cabin in Yosemite National Park with no Internet access. I’m speaking metaphorically of course. What I mean to say is that the best way to lose yourself in the craft of writing is to create a space in your day that is like a porch of a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere.
I’m not going to lie: I’m not very good at this. In fact, I’m pretty terrible at it. The Internet provides so much crucial information—what’s on the menu at the restaurant I’m going to for dinner? What will the weekend weather be? What did Donald Trump say today?
Of course, there’s also Facebook, where writers like to post status updates such as: “1500 words before breakfast!”
It’s tough out there in the virtual world.
And there’s the world inside your head, where you can’t help but hear the critical voices of imaginary readers, or reviewers, or your editor. You worry what everyone else might think, even your family, though you know they’ll probably tell you nice things no matter what.
But sometimes, when the writing going well, when the story I’m working on has captured my attention, everything else falls away, and I can find that quiet: that porch of that tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere.
2. Learn to cook.
When you are a writer, especially when you are a writer of books rather than articles or blog posts or other short pieces, you don’t get much back in the way of daily affirmation. After a day of writing, nobody puts a hand on your shoulder and says: “Hey, great job today!” or: “I can see how much effort you put into your work today, it really shows!”
And you don’t get to finish what you started. That can take years. Day by day you may advance the project a little bit (if it was a good day), but you don’t get the satisfaction that comes with completing a task.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you accomplished anything at all. Yes, there are daily word counts. But how do you know they were good words?
This is why I recommend learning to cook. Cooking is a task you will begin and you will finish, all in the same day. You will have created a product that is ready for consumption and ripe for feedback.
This, I promise, will make you feel better about how you spent your day. If you become a good cook you’ll eat well and your friends and family will appreciate your hard work.
If you aren’t a particularly good cook, those who love you will probably find nice things to say about your cooking anyway. Just like they might about your writing.
About the Book:
Tell Us Something True
by Dana Reinhardt
Wendy Lamb Books
For fans of Sarah Dessen, Jennifer Smith, E.L. Lockhart, and John Green, this delightful, often comic coming-of-age novel stars the lovable, brokenhearted River, the streets of LA, and an irresistible cast of characters.
Seventeen-year-old River doesn’t know what to do with himself when Penny, the girl he adores, breaks up with him. He lives in LA, where nobody walks anywhere, and Penny was his ride; he never bothered getting a license. He’s stuck. He’s desperate. Okay . . . he’s got to learn to drive.
But first, he does the unthinkable—he starts walking. He stumbles upon a support group for teens with various addictions. He fakes his way into the meetings, and begins to connect with the other kids, especially an amazing girl. River wants to tell the truth, but he can’t stop lying, and his tangle of deception may unravel before he learns how to handle the most potent drug of all: true love.
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-- posted by S.P. Sipal, @HP4Writers