Simple Advice for Not-So-Simple Writers
Writers are by their very nature not what many people would consider “normal” but when has normal ever really been something enviable? Not many folks you encounter day to day passing through life may ever admit it but the act of writing is an absolute art form, why else do we highlight some writers over others based off criteria other than just coming up with an interesting story? If you’re working on a book, screenplay, hippie slam poetry nonsense I don’t understand but you love and feel the need to press upon the world, I salute you with some bare bone tips I’ve encountered during my time as a professional writer.
Write What You Know Even if You’re Writing About Things We’ve Never Seen
You’ve probably never seen a ghost and I doubt you’ve seen a UFO but that doesn’t mean you’ve never experienced a nightmare beyond comprehension or a site which completely left you dumbfounded. Our experiences ultimately bleed into our work and if you don’t write about how you experienced a specific event honestly you’re readers won’t feel it either. How can you write about heartbreak if you’ve never been broken? How can you write about the smell and curves of a beautiful woman if you don’t have a specific person in mind? Write what you feel even when what you’re writing about isn’t real, just let the readers take care of the rest.
Speaking of Rest...
For the love of God go to sleep because if your body is a mess you’re writing will be a mess. Author’s know this because all writing is simply a physical manifestation of the mental and emotional state of the writer- you’re working is in essence you.
Oh, Let’s Talk About Alcohol
I won’t discuss my experience too in depth... oh well, might as well tell you anyway. If you depend on alcohol to get through writing some writers I know do, you’re setting yourself up for failure because each sip is taking a toll on you. Some people have better control than others but what I know most writers in my circles will admit is that writing and drinking creates an unhealthy dependency on one another. Are you drinking so you can write or are you writing so you can drink? This was a question I had to ask myself when my work began to suffer and my wallet was bleeding cash for booze. Understand you were a great writer in your own way before you ever needed alcohol to lube the crazy alleyways of that funky brain of yours. Besides, as the editor of my last book once told me, “the saying is write drunk and edit sober, not do everything drunk, you moron.”
A Digital Recorder Can be Your Best Friend
Sometimes the idea of hitting the keyboard just makes you want to take your laptop and just toss it into a lake, but you don’t because you realize that’s a stupid idea. However, for a brief second, you really do consider doing it for nothing more than a bright second of sheer animal joy and destructive passion. SO why not keep going on with your drafts while giving the old laptop a break? The digital recording app on your phone, as well as just a simple
digital recorder, will do the trick. Just let your thoughts bleed out while laying on a couch with your eyes closed and talk for as long as you need too. Then later on or even the next day just listen to your recording and take notes. Hunter Thompson was well known for constantly dictating into a recording and just recording his thoughts, a tactic I used when writing my second book. This strategy is a great way to unwind, relax, think of concepts a little differently as well as a form of simple therapy to help unwind from a rough day of writing.
Cardio is Your Friend
You might hear that word and snicker at the concept of a little bit of exercise but I assure you that cardio in any form is your friend. We’ve all been there, intentionally sitting or laying down constantly thinking of the next move or big step for your story, but you begin to wonder if its just writer’s block preventing you from making that leap from stalling to success. Science shows that a good run or jog, maybe even a brisk walk, helps blood flow through your brain and other brain activities which help drive the creative process forward, thus helping you get back to your writing spot reinvigorated and ready to go hit another couple of chapters.
Don’t Shut Yourself Out From Society
We’ve all been there; you haven’t showered in days, your wearing your comfortable pair of pajamas all day and your “workspace” is probably your bed with a ton of pillows. Let’s not even talk about having a proper diet and taking nutrition into account ever. The biggest problem that writers get just as they think that taking a single break will ruin their creative stride is that that they cut themselves off from friends and family in the process. It's understandable, you don’t want obstruction or distractions, but for the love of Pete go out and enjoy a movie, take a day off, go have dinner with your friends. What you’ll see just like exercising is that while your mind needs a break, your emotions need a shot of socializing to keep your whole being moving forward and enjoy the world you are trying to write for.
Don’t be Afraid to let Other People Read Your Book
Your book is your baby, you don’t want anyone else to hold it but you know one day you have to let it go and begin to walk and live on its own. So in this situation, you might as well get used to the opinions of others by allowing someone close to you or someone you trust to evaluate it honestly to try and give you a general take on whether your book is worth putting any more effort into or if you just created a pound of garbage. If your friends are like my friends, they are probably more crude and blunt than even the rudest critic so at least you’ll know what you’re getting into in terms of being slightly comfortable with the person you sent the first draft too.
Lastly, understand that your book will ultimately be done when it's done, so enjoy all the moments of life in between that allow you to step out of the world your writing so you can
enjoy the story of the real world you're living in. Your art will benefit from a clear emotional and mental reset every so often and ultimately the readers will thank you too.