If there’s one thing I’ve learned since throwing myself into the world of writing, it’s that everyone has something to say about writing. It’s swarmed with so much information and opinion, that it’s easy to lose yourself among it. Sometimes, all we need is someone coming from the same place, telling us what we need to hear, and validating our wisdom. So, before the holidays, and as a new year approaches, I thought this article would be an appropriate one to write.
I’ve compiled a few dos and don’ts that come purely from my experience alone, but if it helps you on your journey into the realms of the writing world, then I can drink my Pinot Grigio with an even bigger smile on my face during my Christmas celebrations. So, let’s start with the DOs:
✓ DO – Believe in Yourself
Doubts will be your worst enemy. Belief will be your best friend. If you don’t believe you can do this, it won’t matter if a million others do. Believe you can, and don’t stop. You’re writing for a reason. Trust in that, and the rest will fall into place.
✓ DO – Be open to continuous learning
No one is born in this world knowing everything. If you decide one day you’re going to be a writer, then know that—especially if you want to make a profession out of it—that you’re going to be learning a new trade, even if you believe you’re a good writer. Novels have different rules to journalism; journalism has different rules to poetry; poetry has different rules to non-fiction. You get the gist. But being open to learning and growing will do you a huge favor. Know it’s a continuous learning process that never stops, and by staying open to it, you will move faster, learn quicker, and make many progressive steps on your journey.
✓ DO – know you’re not alone
Creative professions can be tough sometimes because we often put our souls into what we do, putting it out there for the world to see. Know that you’re never alone, and you’re not the only one who is going through this. Reach out to like-minded people so they can be an arm around the shoulder when the going gets tough. They will understand when many people don’t.
✓ DO – know your intentions
Understand the reasons behind why you write. My first official article on The Magpie Scribes goes into this in more detail, but in essence, it’s all about being honest with yourself so you can plan and strategize accordingly. If you want to write as a hobby, great. If you’re going to write as a release, wonderful. But if you’re going to make a career out of it, then different approaches will be needed if you want to make a success of your writing. By knowing your intentions from the beginning, your direction will become clear.
✓ DO – your homework
If you’re going to market your creations, do your homework. Without getting overwhelmed, you can rifle through the internet to get some fantastic advice. Do you want to indie publish or go via the traditional route? What genre does your book fall into? How should you market your book? What cover design is trending for your genre? And so on. What works for one, might not work for the other, so, like any other business, do your homework, apply a strategy, and go for it!
And now for some Don’ts:
✘ DON’T – Ever Give Up
When you feel like giving up, there is one simple thing you need to do: don’t. Don’t give up. Keep going. What you know today, you’ll know more tomorrow. How you feel today, you’ll feel differently tomorrow. We’re all forever changing: our opinions, our thoughts, our feelings. But if the negative voice shouts the loudest, tell it to shut up, shrug it off, and try again tomorrow. You can do this!
✘ DON’T – listen to the naysayers
Listening to such people is one of my weaknesses. For some reason, I give those who want to pull me down attention over those who build me up. Why do we do it? I don’t know. But you must continue to believe in yourself and what you’re doing. If you get a bad review, ask yourself, is there any constructive criticism in there? No? Move on. Is the review subjective? Yes. Move on. Or if someone says being a writer isn’t a “real” job, then smile, shake your head, and walk away. As the saying goes, “Honesty without kindness is cruelty.” Know the difference. It helps.
✘ DON’T – limit yourself
Banish such claims as ‘I could never,’ ‘I will never,’ ‘I can’t,’ ‘I won’t.’ As soon as you’re comfortable with saying them, you’ll believe their intent. As soon as you believe them, you’ll limit what you’re capable of achieving. The sky is the limit. Get ready to fly!
✘ DON’T – compare yourself to others
Another faux pas of mine. I do it often and fall short, thinking I’ll never be as good as them, and I may as well give up now because I’m rubbish and no good at this. I really should take my own advice! But what helps is knowing that everyone is on their independent journey. Everyone has to learn. Everyone has to go through their growing pains to emerge experienced and wiser than before. Why should I have what I want without the vital learning that develops a strong foundation? That wouldn’t be fair on anyone, especially myself. So I have to continue to trust in the process, and trust in myself, and only worry about what I’m doing. As a writer, you have your voice, which is unique and should stay so. So no more comparing. Either of us!
✘ DON’T – ignore the experts
Yes, ignore those who tell you they do it this way and that’s the right way and whatever you’re doing is wrong. That’s an opinion. But what you do need to take note of is the feedback from those in the know. Editors. Cover designers. Seasoned writers. People who can help you by sharing their knowledge. Listen to those who wish you well, who want you to succeed, and who can see maybe what you cannot. It’s always essential to protect your vision but also listen to those with the right guidance to hone it and make it as brilliant as you see it in your mind. It gets easier the more you trust in who you are and your capabilities.
And that’s it for now. But I would like to end it on one more DO:
✓ DO – have a wonderful time over the holidays, and use it to look back on how much you’ve achieved throughout the year. Often the smallest stepping stones, provide the greatest of journeys, so don’t underestimate how much you’ve grown and learned during the past twelve months. Also, look to the future with a smile on your face, and embrace the choice to find what truly makes you happy.
Permit yourself to shine!
Happy Holidays every one!