Four Tips to Stop Whining and Start Writing

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Every writer has their own set of problems that tries to keep him or her from writing. They may be internal (most of the time, they are), or external. These four tips address some of the more popular reasons would-be writers never progress to real writers.

1. Inspiration is for Amateurs

That’s a quote from photographer and painter Chuck Close. It bears repeating; “Inspiration if for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

This is true for everyone, but it is especially true for artists. Doubly so for writers. Put the pen to the page every day, even when you feel like a dullard. If you’re waiting for that moment of inspiration to strike you before you write that story, you’ll save a lot of money on paper. Because you won’t use it. Get it? Get to work.

2. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. Or Not

Stephen King, in his memoir On Writing, pushes the idea of writing with the door closed. This means having somewhere you can shut away everything and everyone and just get into your own head and write down what you find. King wrote Carrie in a laundry room because he didn’t have anywhere else where he could get away from everyone.

We don’t need an office to write in. We don’t need a desk to write on. If you have these things, good for you. If you don’t, find somewhere no one can bother you, even if it’s just 10 minutes in the bathroom. Speaking of which:

3. Don’t Lie About Your Time

Most writers don’t write for a living, unfortunately.  Most of us have jobs that pay the bills, or have screaming kids, or god-awful roommates. These things cut into writing time, but they don’t take away every minute.

Too often, people complain about not having time to write. You don’t have to be a full- or part-time writer to be a writer. You have to write to be a writer. And if you’re stealing 15 minutes a day away from your kids to write in the bathroom, commuting by train for half an hour with a pen and paper, or whatever—you find time for the things you want to do.

A simple way to tell if you’re lying to yourself about not having enough time is to look at what you do have time to do. Scroll your Facebook wall for 10 minutes at a time? That’s wasted writing time. It’s all about what you make time for.

4. You Can’t Write if You Don’t Read

Or maybe you can. Maybe you’re a writing prodigy who is born with exactly what it takes to become the next Nobel Peace Prize winner in literature. If you can write without reading, good for you.

The real writer reads. A real writer has an intrinsic interest in the written word and wants to. This can be fostered at a late age, or started from the beginning, but to know the differences in good writing and bad writing, you have to read great writing. Even if it’s just a page a day, you should be reading something every day.

And, whatever you do, never stop writing.

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About Author

John Paul Schmidt is a former news journalist. Now he's a freelancer by day and bartender by night while he works on his novel.

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