10 Things I have Learnt about being a writer

Stack of vintage books isolated on white01 Writing takes practice

Of course it takes practice.  It is like anything, you can bring all the talent you have to a creative endeavour, but if you are going to progress you need to practice.

Skill is developed and it needs space and time to grow.  I am actually saddened when I see new writers who say “I’ve started writing a novel,” and then a month later they are publishing it.

I am sure there are the odd savants out there who can churn out a novel and edit it within a month and it’s a masterpiece.  Let me just say I haven’t come across any yet.  Writing needs patient, time and a helluva lot of blood, sweat and tears.

If you are letting your work out without several edits, including at least one (from someone other than yourself, preferably a professional) then you might be doing your writing a disservice.

02 Take it seriously

Because believe me there are enough people around you who won’t.  They will steal your writing time with unnecessary interruptions, consider it a “phase” and laugh if you tell them you plan on being a full time writer one day.

And just to be clear, if you do manage to be a full time writer – that can still happen.  There are plenty of authors who write full time and are still considered as “just playing” at the writing game, by family and friends.

So you need to take it seriously.  You need to decide if you want to just write as a hobby or as a passionate career.  If the latter, then start defending those writing days.

03 Writing is a business

Following on from point 2, if you are looking at making writing your career then you need to start accepting that with all that art there needs to be some splashes of business.

Nope, that doesn’t mean printing up a 100 business cards and passing them out to everyone who even smiles at you.

It means understanding how to market yourself and your work, looking at the financial side and learning to budget.  Writing is not just about making money when you turn it into a career.  It’s a business and like almost all businesses, you need a little capital.  You might need to pay for an advert, pay for a book cover artist (please do! Most “home-made” covers are not good), hire an editor, buy your domain name etc.

As someone who runs their own business I can tell you it’s best to learn about this stuff early and have systems in place before you need them.  How you keep records of your sales, your invoices, your expenses – these are things you can be learning now.

04 There is never enough time

Writing takes a lot of time.  There is plotting and planning, writing, building worlds, editing, weedling out errors and consistency issues, searching for beta readers, networking, brand creation….

Seriously it goes on and on.  Add into that the rest of your life and things can get ugly.  After all, we’d rather write than do ironing or run errands or argue with the boiler repair man… but all these “non-writing” things keep stealing fragments of our time.

In order to let creative juices flow (wow does that sound dirty), I like to make a list make a list in my diary of things I need to get done.  I like to keep my diary evenly spaced throughout the week so it roughly gives me equal amounts of writing time each day.

A good method is to write down the writing you want to get done.  Was there a specific scene you wanted to complete?  Or how about 2 hours research on medieval weaponry?

If you know what needs to get done you can plan for it, schedule it in and it can help to avoid Creative Constipation.  Then you can happily leap to your desk/bed/couch/flying carpet (wherever it is you write) and know exactly what you need to do have a successful day.

05 You’re going to f#ck up / fail

That’s okay, we all do.  We all fail at things and make glaringly embarrassing errors.  It’s part of the learning process.  The trick is to understand that success is not a single street you walk down.

It’s a messy maze that can take several dead ends and obstacles in the way before you achieve what you want.

The failure is the one who finds the dead end or the obstacle, sits down before it and says “I’ve failed.”

Every f#ck up is a chance to learn.  I’m big on learning.  If you don’t learn from the mistake you are never going to develop.

06 You need a thick skin

Someone out there in the “real world” (horrid place, I really try to avoid it!) hates your book.  Yep, the book you may not have even written yet is going to be hated by someone, perhaps a lot of someones.

Suck it up, Buttercup because that’s life.  If everyone loved your work, you’d have your own religion or at least your own network cable show.

You’re going to get bad reviews, someone might even reach out to you to tell you personally how much they hate the drivel you wrote.

But that’s okay, because you didn’t write it for them.  There will be people who love your book, who will fall in love with your characters and your book will be their favourite place to be.

Not going to lie, my skin isn’t that thick.  But I’m working on it and will continue to do so.  Usually under the watchful eye of my partner who knows when I’m about to go nuclear.

07 The muse will hit you at the worst moments

Mine likes to do some kind of sneak attack ninja-style when I’m driving.  In rush hour.  Early morning.  Yeah, she’s a bitch like that.

So whether you get hijacked on your morning commute or get woken up with ideas in the dead of night, you better be ready to get those ideas down.

Because the last thing you want is to be left without any means of giving that idea life before the muse slips away to pass it to another writer.  And your left clutching at the echo of an idea that you just… can’t remember.

08 Sometimes the best has to go

I’ve cried about this.  One of my manuscripts had an awesome scene that I loved.  Characters were great, idea was solid, dialogue and description just flowed.

Problem was it totally ruined the flow of the rest of the novel.  It was a new set of characters  that I had hoped to weave within the story in the first novel.  But it was like the Ugly stepsister trying on the glass slipper.

So it got cut (to hopefully appear in the second book, but I’m not even sure it will work there)

You can ruin a plot by forcing something that shouldn’t be.  Be ruthless with yourself, really see if what you have included – be it a scene, subplot, character, pet cricket, really works for the story.

09 Writing can be lonely

We are mostly solitary creatures, we hide away in our burrows, shunning the real world in order to play in the fake ones we’ve created.  Our minds are littered with imaginary friends (characters) who we can relate to more so than some real people.

Now while the life of a hermit can be quite attractive to the creative types, it’s not always healthy.  The problem is, making connections isn’t easy.

This is why writing groups can be useful, or forums or even just finding another blog and reaching out to the author.   Terrifying I know, but if I can manage it, with my severe anxiety, then you can to.  Trust me.

So strive to make friends, make connections and help each other.  I’ve said it a lot but it always needs saying – we are not in competition with each other.  Only ourselves.

10 Writing is awesome

Seriously, for those of us who have been drawn to this life, who have ink in our blood and a need for home-made reality, it is a necessity.  It is so important, that to miss days of writing can leave us feeling moody and forlorn.

We are writers and it was what we were born to be.  *starts epic theme music*

☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~☆~

Sorry for the missing Monday post.  Hope you all enjoyed this one 🙂

As always reach out, leave a comment, drop a fave and follow me if you enjoy this blog. 

Happy writing

Ari

NB: photo purchased from StoryBlocks.com

About Ari Meghlen

I’ve been a writer since I was given unsupervised access to pens and am unable to write anything shorter than a trilogy. I (now) live in sprawling Northern Ireland which is greener than the green parts of England with my awesome boyfriend and 3 demon cats.

I spend my time lost in imaginary worlds, running my online jewellery shop, taking nature photos or watching bad movies.

Visit me on Facebook or just leave me a comment on this blog.  I love comments 🙂

24 thoughts on “10 Things I have Learnt about being a writer

  1. Business indeed, but so damn fun. I’m like you, socially awkward in the most painful way. Writing is where I live. : D That’s one thing I like about the new era though. I can run a full time writing life online without ever having to see anyone face to face. No ‘hey let’s go to dinner’, or ‘hang out’, no awkward phone conversations where I don’t know what the heck to say. Sometimes life is good!

    Meno<3
    PS. thanks for the follow, I really like your blog so far, very useful!

    • 🙂 Very true, it is fun. One of the best things to do it write. OMG yes! I love that networking can be done online rather than in person and we can just stay in our safe cocoons. 😀 Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you liked the article.

      Apologies for the late reply, I’ve been very ill for the last few weeks.

      Ari

  2. I love this, lol: ‘Suck it up, Buttercup because that’s life. If everyone loved your work, you’d have your own religion or at least your own network cable show.’

    You’re right about it being a solitary pursuit. That’s the hardest part but there are so many great aspects.

    Brilliant advice about getting your business head straight.

    • Thanks Lorraine
      Yes I think we writers are usually designed to be more solitary creatures and yet there does come a time when that can turn into loneliness.

      It’s one of the reason I try and push through my crippling anxiety to reach out to people, make new friends and connections. Doesn’t always work but I always look forward to that new connection and that new friendship.

  3. Well said, Ari!
    “As someone who runs their own business I can tell you it’s best to learn about this stuff early and have systems in place before you need them. How you keep records of your sales, your invoices, your expenses – these are things you can be learning now.”

    I envy you this! I’ve tried to run businesses and never succeeded and this aspect of being a writer is still being a millstone around my neck. You have such an advantage in already having all this figured out, tried and tested.

    Hugs!

    • Thanks Pearl. I am hoping what I learnt from my business will apply nicely to the business side of writing, but damn did it take a few years before I actually got my systems right! lol

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