“Thanks Peter. I checked out your blog. Full of good practical advice. Sometimes I think writing is presented as this mysterious art form when really I find it’s mostly just a lot of very hard work!”
I agree. There are some writer-types (friends of yours, not you) who wear the rose-colored writing-glasses. They attend workshops, and occasionally write a line or two, secretly hoping someone will knock on their door and discover them. Because you are a good friend, here are some suggestions to help them remove the glasses.
1. Work. I can’t say it better. Writing isn’t a mysterious art form we grasp after wrestling with the universe and pleading with our gray matter to drop us a morsel. It is rolling up your sleeves, grabbing a shovel and digging. Need inspiration? Don’t wait around for it; go chase it down.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso
2. Read. Writing requires sharpening your skills. While working on contributing your nuggets to the world, read what others have written too. I would recommend reading at least one good book per month, plus reading or re-reading a book on writing.
3. Invest. You may have to invest in some writing tools, books and conferences along the way. For a time, your writing might have to become a priority over movies, eating out, and the tall-double-mocha-fill-in- the-blank from Starbucks.
Warning: My inside voice coming out – Here’s a thought about those writing books and other tools – you can check out books from the library and there is a wealth of information on the internet, but consider investing in those who have gone before you. If they took time to put their heart down on paper to guide you, perhaps their thoughts are worth a few of your dollars to learn from them. They are hoping to get paid for their time and effort too.
4. Write. Yes, write more than you talk about it. Write letters, submissions and proposals, and then send them out. Even when you don’t have an assignment, you can fill up a sheet of paper or your computer screen anyway. You have to keep in practice or you get rusty. Words will fly from your fingers bound for all corners of the earth, or they will fall flat based on the time you devote.
If I have caused cracks in your friend’s rose-colored glasses, I am sorry. My intention was to let in some light. Let them know there are two choices: get the lens fixed and continue on, or trash the glasses altogether and invest in a shovel. Glasses or shovel, I’ll still say “Hello” at conferences. I’ll still encourage you here on this blog and I’ll keep writing as an example to follow.