1. Take Pride In What You Do
Taking pride is dangerous, because the moods of a writer shift so rapidly. One minute it’s great, the next it’s awful, and, of course, it’s always awful. We’re against the entire cannon of literature throughout all of history, and we write for blogs, for ourselves, for unread documents.
Rarely do we compete.
So it’s easier to give up. To numb ourselves to failure by rolling eyes, dulling our actions to method. Personally, I write as a form of prophecy- less for the foretelling, and more for the eyes-shut speed of the thing.
Taking pride opens you up to possible shame. It’s easier and safer to play the middle with a detached glaze. Removal from the piece, ironic or otherwise, will protect you.
Your writing may suffer for it, but you won’t.
This means I don’t review my work well. I glance, sure, but any extra eye extended to myself comes back queasy. I don’t like my writing. Editing scares me. When I go over my work, I don’t see the possibility of improvement — I feel the fact of failure, sturdy like a pit.
Don’t be like me.
I’m working on the above, and typing it helps. Fight your laziness and your fear to improve, and allow yourself shades of growth.
2. Quality Counts, Everywhere, All The Time.
Bad writing gets washed away like sand in the waves. Typos leaks. Your laziness is reflected in your piece.
You are seen.
There’s a reluctant hope in writing that it’s enough to write; that your point will come across, or, unpointed, your style and vibe will flow to envelop the reader.
I write unpointed. Answers are hidden in text, and plot comes secondary to the all important theme and environment I try to create. This makes it all the more maddening when I am a bad and lazy writer and the moment I make excuses about it, it becomes undone.
You are never too good for fundamentals and purpose. If you believe yourself too good for something, prove it.
3. Don’t Steal Styles
Why bother? You have your own.
Many people doubt that. In writing, there’s an insecurity that provokes the need to play dress-up; we feel that writing is something foreign, something deep, something reserved for grown-ups that makes us feel the need to put on masks of those who came before. It’s why writers coincide with hipsters — there’s a need for self-presentation that covers our insecurity.
It’s also why every writing group has stale stories and prose, or else mimics who ditto the last great book they read.
You don’t have to. You can write like you, being you, being whoever, through practice, that you reveals himself to be. I don’t try to write when I write; I write. That style, at the moment, is comma heavy, wilting under the need for flow. Maybe you’re terse. Who knows! The only way to find out is to write, and write often, until you stumble into routines, half forgotten, that ring of a dream inside you.
Your voice, like a dream, cannot be pursued with conscious effort. It will reveal itself slowly for you to recognize.
4. Your Mood Doesn’t Help (Mostly)
It’s not productive to get obsessive, over-caffeinated or to spend hours cultivating the perfect playlist.
It’s not productive to talk about writing, to surf social media, or to meet with friends to complain about how little you’re getting done.
Don’t chew the corners of your soul. Writing is often a meditative relaxed state, and the more hyped or depressed you become about the process, the less you’re doing.
Just try and relax.
5. Learn From Everything
Reading is an important part of writing. But so is watching, hearing, and remembering. Anything that expands you and your ideas will be relevant in your writing. Subconsciously, you retain these materials like dreams, and the more effort you put into recalling lessons and ideas from further out, the wider your range will be.
Read more. But who said all you should read are books?
Glean from Facebook, friends, breakups, meet-ups, overheard snippets in bars, great books, bad books, bad movies and graphic novels. Learn from coffee shops and aesthetics that catch your eye and bend it around, be it on a sign, a building, or a stranger on the L train.
The world is fluid in inspiration. Catch it where it flies.