The Work

You can read all the books on writing you want, you can study the greats, you can join a writing group and talk the finer points of writing over and over again, but if you don’t keep your nose to the grindstone and actually write something, then you are not a writer. Let me stress this again. You must write something on a regular basis or you are not a writer.

A writer, after all, is a person who writes.

As I said in my first post on the author’s obligations, a writer writes for the purpose of sharing with others. This doesn’t mean that you have to share everything you write. Some drafts may need considerable work before they’re ready for the harsh light of criticism. Some may never be worth sharing at all. Writing for exercise and for fun is all part of being an author. But try to develop a tendency to write with an audience in mind.

Write when you’re in the mood to write. This is something you love, and whenever you can indulge your passion your skills will grow and so will your love of the art, so this is a win-win situation. It’s likely to result in your best work.

Write when you’re not in the mood. It’s very easy to make excuses for yourself and not write. There’s no solution to this other than to ignore those excuses and write anyway. Sure, you’ll probably use the delete key (or your eraser, if you’re of the analog persuasion) a lot at first, but with a running start you’ll be surprised what you can do if you just reach for it a little.

Write when you’re absolutely, positively in no shape to write. It will probably result in one of those passages that you never share with anyone, but sometimes buckling down and writing when you’re not emotionally or mentally prepared to write can result in something that surprises you and eventually finds a place somewhere.

In short, treat writing like your job. Hopefully a job you love, one that fills you with excitement and joy whenever you think of it, that allows you great freedom to creatively express yourself and one that shares those feelings with others, but still a job that brings with it the obligation to keep going, even when you don’t always want to.

Only when you begin to cultivate that mindset do you start to move away from the realm of dabbler and begin to be a writer.


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