Just Keep Writing

If you were to ask me what bit of writing advice I wished someone had told me sooner, this would be the most important one; just keep writing.

Keep writing even if everyone hates what you’ve written. Keep writing even if you hate what you’ve written. Write during the good times, and the bad, write silly stuff and serous stuff. Write stuff that sounds highbrow and write stuff that sounds like glorified fan fiction. Just keep writing.

Outside of just naturally getting better at writing as you do it, this also leads to you having a large selection of writing samples. Something that might be useful if you are looking to become a professional writer.

It really is that simple, but for those of you who are not sold on this let me go further.

Maybe you’re the type of writer who likes to outline everything. These kinds of people tend to make sure they know what’s going to happen at every step of the way along the path of their story and/or poem. And many times they just never get around to writing it because they either get burned out, or it’s not good enough.

But the secret is that if that’s your attitude, it’s never going to be good enough. I get the feeling behind this type of over planning writer, I have a book I’ve written that’s not going to get published without any sort of major rewrite. It sucks that it feels like I wasted all that time working on something that only a select group of people are going to see. But here’s the secret, all that time I spent working on that book–was not a wast of time.

I learned how to improve my spelling, my grammar, and my time management skills. Saying I’ve written a book in a job interview is how I’ve gotten more then a few job offers, because the skills that I developed while writing translate well to the “real world.”

It’s a tad mementic, but “just do it,” is often times the best way to get started on anything. So no matter what anyone tells you about wasting time, or needing to plan better–my advice will always be just keep writing.

But that’s just what I think….

Finding a New Path as a Writer

Here’s something you might find interesting, I’ve written a book. I haven’t gotten it published, I did try of course but there was a lot working against me, including my lack of social skills and inability to sell myself as any sort of skilled individual. I did some research into publishing after my failures and found out some frustrating things. The most frustrating is that a first book is supposed to be “put in a drawer” and then never heard or thought about again while I work on my second book which of course will be superior in every way.

Yeah right, that all sounds like high and mighty garbage to me, excuses written by kool-aid drinking pompous publishers who sit around talking about the art of writing in absolutes, as though there is only one obviously correct way to do things–or at lest that was my knee jerk reaction.

Oddly, I’ve never been the kind of person who does things the way everyone else does, heck I’m so untrendy I sound at least ten years older then I actually am with how out of sync I am with pop culture. But for some reason I’d always bought into the standard path that a writer must take, and I don’t know why. You know what I’m talking about right? Get a book published, maybe write a few articles, and then win an award or something. It all sound very easy when your listening to a story about someone else success.

None of this should have bothered me, and heck, maybe it wouldn’t have bothered me save for one issue. I had changed my story to be more appealing to publishers. I had added in artistic elements that I might not have even bothered with had I just been writing the story with no thoughts of publishing in my head, and honestly writing that book was miserable.

I’ve never been able to fully figure out why I was so unhappy writing that story. It could very easily have been a combination of factors. But when it came time to try and get my book published I–Just didn’t want to think about it anymore. The thing I thought would make me happy, had somehow made me unhappy. And I had to start thinking about why this was and what I needed to change.

After going through a time where I wasn’t really writing much of anything I decided that I needed to find a new path, a new path for me as a writer. And I had learned that the traditional way of writing, and the traditional way of publishing made me unhappy and just plain frustrated. And there’s an old truth that came to mind, don’t buy stock in a company you don’t belive in.

So I started this blog, I started posted poetry that I had saved up across, many years of writing. I had always hoped that I might get my poems published in a collection or someplace important. But I wasn’t really sure that I believed that was the correct way to do things anymore.

And then I started writing and posting stories on here, including NEXUS Monsters (Don’t worry I intend to write more about the inspiration and reason behind that story soon as well). And I’ve started to experiment with poems that tell stories in interesting ways as well. And the best part is I’m happy with what I’ve been writing and how I’ve been writing it, I’ve let go of any expectations of being published and am more then happy to just have my stuff posted somewhere on the internet. I no longer care about how my poems and stories might appeal to a wider audience, I can write for me, and it’s been a blast so far, even when things have’t worked out, or when I’ve run into issues.

Now none of this is to say that my path and your path need to be the same. Heck–the more traditional publishing path may be the perfect one for you, it clearly is for a lot of people. And now that I’m out of the way and not competing for a publishers attention it might give you more of a chance in the futuer, who knows.

If there’s one thing I’ve taken from all of this is that we should never be afraid to look for new ways of doing things, Even when it seems like we’ve hit a dead end we just have to back up and try to find another way forward. But that’s just what I think….

Rule 0

I have an unwritten rule for myself with it comes to writing. I call it my Rule 0. What is this strange and mysterious rule that didn’t make the list but I keep sacred anyways. It is as follows; “Always remember to have fun.”

This might seems like a no brainer to some, and others may be rolling their eyes at my ‘childish’ way of thinking. But I have always tried to keep this rule when writing. If I’m not having fun with a project I drop it. I will hold on to all the work I had done up to that point in case I change my mind latter. But I will never force myself to work on a writing project if I’m not having fun.

As I’m sure some of you are aware this goes against common writing wisdom. Many say the best way to keep writing is to make it a habit, write often, at least once everyday. But I find if I try to force my writing I burn out quickly and I end up with almost nothin to show for it. No for my money it is better to write when your excited to write. And to write what your excited to write. I spent a good three years trying to force myself to write a book to say that I had done it. And I did, despite the fact that the book remains unpublished.

I was excited to write that book at first, but the more I tried to force myself to work on it the more frustrated I became. And when I look back at what I’d written it was rather subpar. What do I have to show for three years of writing effort. Not a whole lot, I can’t even say I had fun writing it or that they story excites me anymore. So now I write for fun, and only when I’m having fun, and only about ideas that excite me.

I would be remiss not to mention the obvious exception for rule 0. I realize that a lot of people write for work and that’s not always fun especially when you have to write 3 articles a day to make ends meat. Work is not always going to be fun but you do get paid for it so it’s important nonetheless. That being said rule 0 still has something to say about writing work. If you are waking up everyday dreading work, if you haven’t had fun with your writing not just for days but weeks–it may be time to consider a change in jobs. No job is making yourself miserable over, even if it is one of those supposed ‘dream’ jobs.

But that’s just what I think….