When I was growing up, I knew I always wanted to be a writer. Even when I was younger, I would stay up well past my bedtime to fervently write fan fiction based off of my favourite shows like Inuyasha and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was just in my blood. I wanted to write, I wanted to create using the craft of words. Fiction, non-fiction – it didn’t matter – I wanted to be a wordsmith and this is about what that journey has meant to me.
A little bit about me is that I have been writing professionally for about 10 – 15 years now. I’ve been a published poet, I’ve written songs for bands, Fictional stories 30 chapters long, I’ve written articles and segments for publications and magazines – my scope is a wide one because I wanted to explore all of the different facets that comes with the title ‘Writer’.
Over the years I have been asked by my contemporaries as well as friends and family as to how I even got into writing and what that path has meant to me. Well, the answer isn’t that simple. There is no “one” or “correct” way to get into writing. You just sort of do it and hope for the best. It’s like a bad dating reality show, you just have to put yourself out there and pray that the right fit happens. Sometimes there is even a rose thrown in there. Sometimes.
Whether the beginning lies within fan fiction, a simple blog, or an actual publication – any writing is good writing because that is experience. If there is one thing this whole piece is about, it’s that the process of becoming a writer is an evolutionary one – it never stops growing and it never stops progressing. Just do it.
So what has writing taught me? Glad you asked:
SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET MAD
No matter what, there is always someone out there that is going to get mad. It has nothing to do with being ‘politically correct’ or people getting “too easily offended nowadays”, it has everything to do with the fact that everyone has a different perception and there is always at least one looking for a way to justify a crusade (no matter how small). It won’t matter if you are objective, subjective, right, wrong – hell, you could be made out of solid gold having descended from the heavens themselves and yet SOMEONE IS STILL GOING TO GET MAD.
And that’s ok.
ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
This applies to basically every single aspect of the writing process but what I am speaking about specifically in this case, it’s in respect of the writer’s soul. You can put your heart and entire being into a piece – your blood, sweat, and tears could make up every letter that marks your page; it can be something that you have never been more proud of … and yet … only one person will like it. Or one person will view it. But then you’ll turn out something that was half-assed and thrown together on a whim and yet MILLIONS (maybe) of people will suddenly flock to your grandeur. Don’t take it personally … audiences change. Rate of exposure changes. It does not matter. Keep writing and keep putting yourself in your work – you are writing for YOU, remember that.
IT’S OK TO LOOK UP TO OTHER WRITERS
There will always be someone you see as “above” your skill set and there will always be someone you see as “below”. We all start this journey somewhere but it’s important to realise that it is OK to look up to another writer. Admiring a fellow writer in no way negates how you yourself are perceived. Look to your peers for inspiration, support fellow writers in their journey within their craft … it does not lessen your position as a writer whatsoever.
When I was first starting out (and in my defense, I was young), I will admit I was quite the green-eyed monster. I was so envious of my contemporaries, the ones I believed were so far beyond my station that I couldn’t imagine how to even begin to articulate the way they would in their work. I never had the attitude of ‘I’m jealous, so I’m going to take them out’, god no, but I would internalize my jealousy and it poisoned how I viewed myself. So if there is anything you get from this – it’s that JEALOUSY IS STUPID.
WRITE EVERY DAY
I’m serious – every damned day. I don’t care if it is a 30 page manifesto or sporadic paragraphs here or there. Write every day. Every day, every day, every day. I don’t care what you write about, it can be an opinion piece, a news article, it can be about your thoughts on the colour of bread – just, for the love of god, write.
This is more towards the editorial side of writing. There were so many times when I would write a piece, or my fellow writers would write a piece, where all of the facts had evidence to support them and they were all verified. And then … suddenly those facts would shift … they would change into something else entirely. That’s OK, that happens … what is not OK is beating yourself up over it and feeling like a failure.
There were so many times when I would make an addendum to a piece and I would have my tail tucked firmly between my legs (metaphorically, no tail – promise) and would just feel ashamed. I would feel like a failure as a writer when in reality – it was beyond my control. Facts change. They just do sometimes. Keep your chin up and consolidate what you knew with what you know.
ALWAYS SEEK INSPIRATION
NEVER, and I mean EVER, stop seeking inspiration. One of the most important things being a writer has taught me was to always look for inspiration in everything I do. The writing evolution has carried me on this wonderful and awe inspiring journey entailing always finding new experiences to continue in pushing my boundaries. I feel very fortunate to call myself a writer because this practice of always looking to quench that thirst for that ever inspiring moment has kept my mind fresh and my outlook fresh. A world without inspiration seems so terribly dull to me now that I have been in this mindset for so long.
Inspiration isn’t a chain, it isn’t a cuckold. It is beautiful and writing gives you the freedom to be inspired always and forever.
PROCRASTINATING IS COOL
I’m laughing to myself because this is such a “haha” moment to all of my old college professors. Are we ready for this? Procrastination – it CAN be a good thing. I’m not trying to blow your mind here, but there it is.
Feeling that impending deadline only fueled my creative juices, some I didn’t even know I had. It was like tapping an unknown resource. Are you ready for my nerdy way of referencing said untapped resource, because it’s happening: it’s like lyrium to a Templar, mana to a mage – it’s like that badass star in the Super Mario games.
Procrastination can be a powerful tool but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily right for everyone. Find out what works for you, what pushes you to uncover that secret reserve of writing potential? For some, like myself, that deadline, that impending goal can drive the inner stubbornness to just hit a written piece out of the park. So take that, Professor Graham.
NEVER PUT YOURSELF DOWN
There will always be “haters” and harsh critics. There also will always be people that genuinely want to help you grow in your artistic journey. Soak everything up. Be the metaphorical sponge that everyone likes to reference so much. Learn how to take every criticism in and shift through the harmful and the negative and find that nugget of constructive analysis that you can add as a tool in your belt. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – you write for you. No matter your profession or your medium of publication, first and foremost you should always write for you.
Stay true to yourself and never stop growing. The process of writing is a never ending learning process. The moment you stop growing, you are dead. Continue to strive for knowledge and inspiration, draw creative energy from your peers, discover the world around you from different perspectives and give those perspectives a voice through written word. You can do it. I did it. I am doing it. And I can tell you what, I am so glad that I did – I wouldn’t change this journey for anything in the world.