The single most important piece of advice in this How to build a Writer series is write… and if that fails make a wish… and if that fails drink whiskey until you write all the words. Then when you’ve written all the words rewrite them better sober. It was Ernest Hemingway who said this and I relate to it even if I don’t necessarily practice it.
What I do know is that the only way you can be a better writer is to keep writing. Write when you have inspiration, write when you don’t; write when you’re happy, write when you’re sad. Write your story or write someone else’s; write without worrying about the grammar, the logic, the sense; just write.
I read somewhere that all great writers have written something like two million words of utter twaddle before they were good enough to be published. I believe this is true. The more you write the more you see your way through the obstacles, and the more you learn about your craft. So the single most effective thing you can do is write and edit your work for improvement. The more you do this the easier it becomes to Find Your Voice and the less editing your work will require in the future.
Don’t get me wrong you will always need to edit your work, but experience will translate into better first drafts. You can sit there wishing for a book deal, wishing for inspiration, but if you take no action you will never get there.
Wishing is a form self slavery. You refuse to accept responsibility for something and instead ask the universe or your fairy godmother to supply. Now I happen to believe in magic but relying on a wish to see you through is an abuse of that beautiful force that flows through all of creation.
Sometimes making wishes has disastrous consequences for those who make the wish and for those who try to make it happen…
Do yourself a favour, make a wish if you must, but then act to make it happen.
Where does whisky come in you may be wondering? Whisky is a liquor that takes the edge of life. I don’t drink a lot, but when I do it is usually whisky. For me it is calming, and offers immediate relief from my disappointments. All the wishes that haven’t worked out are washed clean by whisky. It puts the world to rights in my mind brings the important things into focus. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is more easily said than done.
Rather than drink myself into stupor to find my muse, I tend to use whisky to round off a day or even as a reward for reaching my daily word target.
What helps you get through those tough days when you wonder why you’d even want to be an impoverished writer?