Writing can be a lonely pursuit, and I sometimes find myself needing and giving pep talks.
I have a good friend, who has gone through a long spell of not writing, reading or submitting after completing a novel, and he continually gets his hopes up on his submissions. He is also an ex-boxer and martial artist, and I tried to pump him up by reminding him that writing is like any other discipline – you have to do the basics well and often in order to create, refine and publish your writing.
Here are my 3 Basics to Writing and what I strive to do EVERY SINGLE DAY:
OK, I know…this one’s obvious. But I mean actually WRITE when you are tired, pissed about work, sick, or depressed. It doesn’t have to be much, preferrably at least an hour a day.
2. Read (And Think Critically)
Recently, in an interview on NPR, Junot Diaz said that everything he learned about writing he learned from reading. Reading is something we tend to cut back on when our professional, personal and writing lives are too busy. But we also need to remember that we love books and it helps our writing chops.
The second part of this is more complicated, and actually the reason I started this blog. I am now 15 years removed from my graduate writing program, and my writer’s group has turned into a social group over time, and I found I needed to find an outlet to engage with other people about what I love to do most. Some people post about writing on Facebook or Goodreads, and others go to workshops or join book clubs. My approach was to start a blog, and interact with a global community of writers (I have been surprised to find that Writeliving has now been read in more than 50 countries).
3. Submit (And Never Think About a Submission)
My writer friends run the gamut on this one, everywhere from 0 to 10,000 submissions a year. The past year I have simplified the process for myself and every day submit at least one thing. It helps that I write in multiple genres, finish new material often, and almost always have a selection of completed poems, stories, books to pitch.
My advice is to never have expectations for anything you’ve written to be published, and to always be open to what the universe brings from rejection notes, to acceptances.
There are other things you could put on this list, ranging from eating well, to sleeping, to calendaring your time. However, when I feel like I am getting off track, I focus even harder on these 3 basic things, and I repeat it almost like a matra. Write. Read. Submit. Repeat.