Corrie Ann Gray
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10 Things Every Writer Should Know BEFORE They Start

A lot of people, of all ages, want to be a writer. I thought I would share with you my list of the top 10 things you should know before you start.

  1. Be you. As a child, when I read books and magazines I would fantasize about writing like the author. I thought the more I practiced to be like the famous writers that I would somehow become one myself. How wrong I was. Writing is a personal thing. Find your voice and let the world hear it. Sure, the writers you read a lot will influence your work, but deep down you have a voice that is uniquely you, and that is what your readers want to hear, so be you.
  2. It can get pretty lonely writing all day. For obvious reasons, writing is a solitary endeavor. Oh, sure some writers work in teams, like television writers, but the act of writing is on you. And I am finding that a lot of writers are introverts like me. Not surprising but it does make it even lonelier. We can only spend time with our keyboards (pens) for so long. Make an effort to get out and talk to people, be in nature and experience life. That is what will influence your work the most.
  3. You will eagerly search out writer friends. Only other writers get the uniqueness of the job. They get you and will create a community of kindred souls that you can quickly tap into when you need a self-confidence boost, a word that you can’t quite capture, or a shoulder to cry on when you get the next rejection letter, which will come. Whether these friends are local or virtual, bring them into your writing world for inspiration and a good kick in the rump when you need it.
  4. You have to share your writing with others to gain any traction, but be selective. This has recently been a big deal for me. There was a time when I would allow people to read my work, even when it was in the early draft stage. Somewhere along the line (probably during my MFA program), I learned that people who know how to give good criticism don’t always know how to deliver it. While you should share your work with others to gain perspective, always be selective about who you allow to criticize the work. And don’t take it personally. Sure, it’s your writing and all, but their feedback is only their perspective. Get over it and keep writing.
  5. Rewriting is where the real writing happens. I cannot tell you how many times I hear writers say that their manuscript is finished after the first draft. That isn’t editing but proofreading. Editing is when you rip the manuscript to shreds, throw out half of it and put it back together. And you do this many times. I hated editing when I was younger and never did it. I got straight A’s on essays in my lower-division education, and it wasn’t until I took a college-level creative writing class that I was “forced,” by British writer Rupert Thomson, to rewrite a short story ten times. I was crushed. I could no longer wing it the night before and turn in a paper for an A. This was THE greatest writing lesson I ever received and one that has stayed with me. I still don’t like rewriting, but I do it over and over again.
  6. You will hear no more often than yes. This is one of the key reasons why the quantity of writing is important. The odds are against you for getting an agent or editor to say yes, so make sure you write, write, and write some more. Eventually, you will start hearing the yeses, and you’ll be all giddy inside, but the no’s you get are good fuel for motivation. Use the experience as a learning opportunity, dust yourself off and move on to the next project. You do have a masterpiece inside you.
  7. The “rules of writing” don’t matter. As a child, I was horrible about following the rules in composition class. Today I laugh when people incorrectly assume that I was an English major in my undergraduate program. I learned from my teachers that if I could craft a witty and informative five-paragraph essay, they generally overlooked the grammatical errors and gave me the A. I know the rules, or at least most of them, but I don’t sweat it every time I sit down to write a sentence. What comes out is what comes out. If someone says something about your grammar, always remember it’s their opinion and advice you can ignore.
  8. Self-doubt is a real emotion. Boy oh boy, is it. There have been many times when I was on cloud nine, writing like crazy and having loads of fun. Other times, I have sunk into the self-doubt abyss thinking I would never get a project sold. It happened the first time a big Hollywood producer read one of my screenplays. The entire time they had the manuscript I thought of all the reasons why the project sucked. Often I make up things that have never transpired. Don’t do that to yourself. Allow the readers to read, and you keep being your awesome writerly self.
  9. They say having thick skin is important, but the thin skin is just as important. The thick skin protects you from the criticism that you will encounter as you submit more and more projects to agents, editors, and producers. Always remember their feedback is only their opinion and you don’t have to believe it. In fact, don’t believe it.  The thin skin is important when you are writing. The art of writing requires you to connect with feelings, emotions, sights, sounds, and people that make things real. The deeper you go, the more inspiring your work will be to others. The more in touch you can get with the real expression of a word, the design of a sentence or the curves of a paragraph, the more passion and love you bring to your work. This is what makes you uniquely you. Don’t lose that by protecting yourself while you create. Only put the armor on when you listen to the editor at the conference who hasn’t a clue what your work truly means.
  10. Write because you have to not because you want to. Many people who say they want to be a writer really mean they like the idea of being a writer. When you have to write because the thoughts swirling around in your brain have promised full-on combat if they don’t get out, that’s when you know you should be a writer. I’ve been a writer most of my 50 years. My mom kept my very first book, a short story called Puppy. The cover was thin cardboard and tied together with a red hair ribbon. It was written before the age of six. I kept writing because I had to remain sane in my reality. Writing was my canvas for expression (later I added dance) and I had to use it to release the pressure of childhood, adolescence, early marriage, and life’s ups and downs. If you keep at it, your “have to write” will turn in to a “want to write” and a habit that you couldn’t get rid of if you tried.

What are some things you wish you knew before you started your journey as a writer?  Share in the comments and let’s chat about it.

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About the Author Corrie Ann

Corrie Ann Gray is a visionary writer, strategist, philosopher, and a damn good cookie creator. She is also known as The Renaissance Soul Writer and is the founder and director of the Clean Body Project, where she inspires individuals to live a holistically purpose-filled life.

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Leave a Comment:

Garin says February 16, 2018

As usual another stellar blog. I was fortunate enough to have the mindset at the beginning to be prepared to hear a lot of no’s before I hear any yes’s. I try to tell my writing friends that with various success or lack thereof. I’ve been fortunate and even lucky to have received the yes’s that I have so far but as I tell people the amount of no’s triples it.

I do wish I would’ve had more writing friends once I decided to finally take my writing seriously. Which is something I should’ve done since day one is take it seriously and not let people talk me out of it. I have a handful of good friends now that are writers and we bounce ideas off of each other. We’re support systems for each other and many times talk about things other than writing which I feel is important.

Another thing for me is that I wish I had a better understanding that not everybody will support me in my journey. It’s something I still struggle with to this day and hopefully I can get it under control because it does get to me at times. If I challenged myself at the beginning to push forward it would’ve been very helpful.

I agree 100% of getting away sometimes from the pen and paper or in my case the computer and enjoy life and people. Everybody needs a break no matter how much one loves writing. Plus, as you stated there’s a very good chance you’ll see and/or hear something that inspires you. I feel that anything can be turned into a story so sometimes I’ll just go for a drive with the sole purpose of seeing something that I can use in a story. Other times I’ll go to a park and just sit for hours just looking at the scenery and something will hit me. I write my thoughts down on paper or I enter them on my phone and then I’m good to go.

Reply
    Corrie Ann says March 8, 2018

    As always Garin – thank you for your comment. Sometimes having a thick skin is what saves us as writers. Haha. It’s great that you have a group of writing friends that you can connect with and bounce ideas around. That is key for any writer at any stage in their career. Keep doing what you are doing and those who don’t see the value in your work will be eating their thoughts and comments in no time. Write on!

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