Greta I like your blog. I am trying to be a writer but I find it hard. Do you have a tip?
Hello — thanks for your message.
I don’t personally have a tip, but my pen does – little ‘writer humour’ for you there.
To write is to fight. There’s no doubt about it. Being a writer is hard for many reasons.
You have to generate new ideas when you don’t feel like it.
You deal with rejection when other people don’t like those ideas.
You have to sit yourself down and write when you’d rather be doing something else.
You work alone most of the time – which means two things. Firstly, you get lonely. Secondly, you don’t get real-time feedback on your progress. So essentially, you work in a lonely vacuum.
And then, there are the considerations about what and where you write. When I write my blog, I’m the Editor in Chief. I decide what goes in and what doesn’t. I’m free to spend time on ideas I think other people will find interesting, and my editorial agenda gets full airplay.
But in the great world of work, this situation is reversed. The Studio decides what goes in and what comes out of the screenplay. The Editor decides whether your article runs or is ‘spiked’. The client decides if your copy is re-written to include the ideas of a committee of idiots.
Writing commercially – even if you’re working on the most artistic, most creative, most meaningful project in the world – is hard. Precisely because control over your work is often lacking, and other people often get to put an oar in.
For these reasons, being a writer isn’t something you do. It’s something you are.
The best ‘tip’ I can offer is to find out about yourself – whether being a writer is in your blood and bones. If it is, you’ll make a success of it. Note that this doesn’t mean being a commercial success. Success as a writer means continuing to write; if you earn good money from it, that’s a bonus, not a mark of success.
The world we live in today makes us judge ourselves and others by commercial success. But once upon a time, we judged ourselves and others by the simple fact of what we did in life. ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ I work with wood, therefore I am a carpenter; I write, therefore I am a writer. Being a writer connects you with that old wisdom. The success it brings you is the pleasure you get from doing it. And the chance to help or guide others along the way.
This is also why it’s not helpful to compare yourself to other writers. The path you walk in life exists only for you to walk it. How other people got where they are or did what they did isn’t relevant to you. Don’t fall into the trap of making competitive comparisons: as a writer your voice and your experience are unique.
Be yourself, think for yourself and learn to express yourself in a way that is authentic. And learn to do this for the rest of your life. Then, my friend, you’ll be a writer.
Hope this helps.