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April 2, 2024

8 Tips for Aspiring Writers.

 

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{*Did you know you can write on Elephant? Here’s how—big changes: How to Write & Make Money or at least Be of Benefit on Elephant. ~ Waylon}

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I wanted to be many things when I grew up: astronomer, drawer of Disney cartoons, spy, wildlife protecting activist, ethologist, psychologist, war journalist, musician, food photographer, even an emergency surgeon after watching too many episodes of ER in a row.

But there’s only one thing I really grew into: writing.

I’ve written since I learned how to hold a pen, but I never really thought of myself as a writer. I just wrote because it was always the most fascinating thing for me—to use a pen to draw weird lines others can make a sense of, and to pull out the world that lives in my head and make it alive for others on a piece of white paper yet knowing everyone’s interpretation can be different based on the whole world that exist inside the skull of them. The power of a tiny little thing such as a comma or a exclamation mark.

I learned to read and write on my own, before I even went to school, and even though at age eight my mother sent in one of my short stories of a winter tale to compete in a contest of the regional newspaper, and it got published as the winner, I only wrote for the drawer of my desk.

I always lacked the confidence to show my work to others. I was always terrified by rejection and negative criticism. (Both killers of any art.) So I wrote and wrote for years, and I wrote everything from poems to haikus and even attempted to write a romantic novel (you know that type you finish in a hot summer day in your hammock), until I grew enough as a person that I dared to come out of my shell, as a true Cancerian that I am).

Though, there were always periods when I didn’t write at all, but at least I wrote in my journal. Writing is a tool that keeps me sane, like yoga and meditation. It’s something I have to do on a regular basis otherwise I don’t feel good; I don’t feel like myself—even if I only write about my day in my diary.

So, I thought I share some of the things I’ve learned in hopes to be of benefit to someone.

1. Avoid perfectionism.

Oftentimes, I used to stop writing because I couldn’t write what I wanted in one sitting and it wasn’t even near to being as good as I wanted it to be, so I threw it away and went down in the rabbit hole of beating myself up for not being good enough or being incapable of getting my ideas out of my head the way I want to. It took me years to overcome my addiction to create something perfect (hint: even if it’s perfect for everyone else, it will never be perfect enough for you). But perfectionism kills the creative spark and can end up in a butchered piece of art, so I learned to rest instead of quitting. Now I set my work aside for later when I have better ideas or work on my writing pieces.

2. It’s okay to care, but don’t care too much.

For years I never show my writings to anyone because I cared too much what others might think of it. It’s okay to want to write so well that everyone loves it, to want people to be interested in reading your articles or novels. It’s okay to want your work to be well received. But you shouldn’t get too attached to the outcome or allow it to influence your moods and feelings. As I see, everything I write is like my child, but I try to treat my writings as I think parents should treat their children—with the most love and care. But when it’s time to let them go, I release them into the big-big world and let their hands go, so they can go and live their life on their own. Some do it better, some less. Some need to come back home for a little more pampering and be released again, and it’s fine as it is.

3. Learn to take a break.

There are periods when I do not write and it’s perfectly fine (though I didn’t always see it like this). While there can be lots of reasons why a writer’s block is upon us, it’s crucial to understand these these periods and respect them. Don’t beat yourself up but embrace the break. Do things that you always wanted, get out of your comfort zone, or just chill on your couch—you’ll learn what works best for you to fill out the gap. I gave up trying to force writing (only to feel worse) and figured my way around it and accepted that it happens even to my favorite novelists. And the silver lining is that every time I honor my writer’s block, I come back from it more inspired and more creative then ever before.

4. Don’t expect your art to take care of you.

While making a living off of your hobby sounds like the ultimate dream job, in my experience it turned out to be a nightmare. (But I know for some people it works really well, so take this with a grain of salt.) I would lie if I said I don’t love to get paid for what I write, but when I wrote for money for an online magazine, I felt like I was suffocated. Being told what to write about, deadlines chasing me down, having to write about things that I am not interested in, and the weight of the expectations that it has to be liked by an audience that wasn’t for me killed my creative spark and even my willingness to write.

I love freedom overall. In everything. So naturally, I love the sense of freedom when I write. In the end, writing is an art and art should not be caged, placed in a box, and have its wings cut off, or else it will die. Maybe it’s just me, but I write (and feel) the best when I am free—to write whatever I want, the way I want, whenever I want. I write even if no one reads it and even if it will never bring me another cent. It’s a part of me. I can’t kill it off by putting so much expectation on my passion that it has to take care of me monetarily.

5. Be bold to experiment.

My high school literature teacher opened my eyes to experimenting. I remember I was so hardheaded when she told me she thought I should study literature and writing at university. “Who is she to tell me?” I thought. Since I refused, she started to give me different assignments as home work: to write a poem like this, to write a short story about that, then write the same story in a different form, or she gave me a sentence and I had to come up with a story around it. I learned this way that I might have my own process that works well, but there is so much more to discover and find gems on the way—like I loved to write poems, but I’d have never discovered my love for writing haikus without her homework. Ever since, from time to time, I like to experiment with writing different styled articles, trying out new styles of language, and how I depict things.

6. Find yourself a cheerleader.

My inner critic could be a b*tch to the point that I even considered giving up writing. For me, the best way to escape her and silence her was to find a cheerleader, a friend of mine who loves what I write and how I write, and whenever I have serious doubts coming up or question the quality of what I wrote, I talk to her or send her my writing and she replies with such an encouraging, uplifting message that the b*tching voice can’t even answer. I also have a folder on my phone with screenshots saved of comments that warm my heart, and after reading them I feel inspired again to keep doing what I do, even when that little voice keeps asking: “You really think you can? Don’t be ridiculous.” Just watch me, I tell her.

7. Read as much as you can.

To be a good writer, I think one has to be a good reader, too. But not only the classics and the big hits but also lesser knows writers and new writers and forgotten writers. Not only books but also quality magazines or newspapers. The more I read of other, amazing authors and writers, the more I learn. You pick up more style, vocabulary, new ideas about how to depict something, new perspectives, and often get inspired to fill a plot hole in your soon-to-be-born novel.

8. Cultivate deep curiosity.

For everything and everyone, I mean it. When my teacher I mentioned before told me that she thinks there’s a writer lost in me waiting to be discovered and released, I started to think differently of myself. I never told her I write, but she knew it from the way I wrote my homework and tests (we often had to write essays or in the tests we had to provide lengthy answers with our own words).

From that moment, I thought of myself as a writer and it changed the way I see things. I became more curious about life, people, places, and the whole world. I love to sit quietly and watch people, listen into conversations, make up backstories about interesting people I see on the street, and keep asking why. Why would she say this? Why would that man do that?

~

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