What does it take to be a writer? I get asked this question a lot. People also ask me, how do you find the time to write? So for this week’s blog, I’ve decided to offer a few tips for the writer at any stage of her life—from the college student writing an academic essay to the aspiring novelist typing at 5 am and then running off to work by eight. I’ll start with three tips this week and offer a few more in the next blog. Of course, feel free to share what works for you!
- Make time every day to write. Set a daily alarm and stick to your plan. If that means waking up at the break of dawn to squeeze in an hour of uninterrupted writing time, do it. Commit to it and take action. For the student writer, set aside time each day to write or read and make sure you have a quiet space, which leads to point #2.
- Establish your ideal setting—and I don’t mean within your novel or paper. I mean, find a place that is distinctly yours and one that is conducive to writing. For some, this might be the corner table in the back of the coffee shop. For others, it might be that one cubicle or table in the library. Or, establish a new spot at home that becomes the “writer’s spot”—and equip it with a “do not disturb” sign. For me, I can write anywhere really, but it has to be on a computer. A typical day of writing is usually me at home on the couch with my laptop and a pot of coffee close by. I set aside one day a week for writing, and very rarely do I allow something to override it. But when it does, I make up for it as soon as I get the chance. It’s all about making a commitment.
- Read—and read a lot. You become a better writer by reading other people’s work. Study the classics. Devour new releases. Immerse yourself in the genre you are writing. If you’re writing an academic paper, do your research for the facts and statistics you want to include in your paper, but also pay attention to how the author is offering the information in the article. Be sure to pay close attention to voice and style. I have learned (and continue to learn) so much by studying great writers. Some of my favorite books include The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; Night by Elie Wiesel; Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume (actually, everything by Judy Blume); Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson; Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; and all of Sarah Dessen’s YA novels.
So, that’s it for this week. Let me know what works for you when drafting, what books have inspired you, or what your writing spot looks like. Send me pictures too!