I’ve been writing for over 30 years. The writing bug bit me when I was about 10. I was away at summer camp for two weeks and my father, a professional writer, would write to me every day. He’d tell me about the goings-on at home and ask about camp life. At night, before lights out, I’d pick up pen and paper and write back.
In one letter he wrote: “Gee, you write an interesting letter. I read it last night…and liked it very much. You’re going to follow in your father’s footsteps as a writer except you’ll be so much better.”
Years later—after numerous jobs—I am a professional writer, too. What took so long? Mistakes and procrastination. If I could go back in time, there are 10 things I’d tell my 10-year-old self about writing.
- Learn the basic mechanics of writing and grammar. Take an online or continuing education writing course and attend webinars or workshops.
- Observe. This is the basis of all writing. If you can’t observe the world around you, you can’t write.
- Tweak. Tweak. Then tweak some more. There’s nothing worse than finding a typo after you’ve hit “Send.”
- Don’t kid yourself. Writing isn’t easy. It requires discipline, hard work, commitment, patience and a sense of humor.
- Read voraciously. Reading others’ work expands your vocabulary and makes you a better writer.
- Develop your own unique voice and don’t compromise your style. That’s what sets you apart.
- Let go of your fear of failure (or success). Don’t think about publishing, royalties, New York Times’reviews or bestsellers. Just write.
- Take your craft seriously. Create a sacred space to write that’s quiet and free from interruptions.
- Writing is a form of self-expression. It’s a therapeutic, lifelong journey of self-discovery.
- Enjoy what you do. Otherwise it’s an incredible waste of time.
Many barriers can stop you from being a writer. You don’t have the right mindset or good writing habits. Or maybe you need to focus on boosting your creativity.
It took me a long time to think of myself as a writer. Even when I was already a published author, I didn’t consider myself a “real” writer.
Then one day, I found a saying that helped me realize I was already a writer.
“A writer writes.”