Hello and welcome back to the blog! It has been an interesting week in the Roth household. A failed hose caused our main floor bathroom to flood… with hot water. This happened for an unknown amount of time before it was discovered. When it was found water was leaking through the ceiling of the basement bathroom and laundry room, which is directly under the main floor bathroom. Well, it appears we are getting a bathroom remodel soon. Today, I would like to give you ten truths about writing, according to me. Remember, these are only my opinion and are in no particular order.
- Read a lot. This is a basic truth for every writer, whether you write fiction or nonfiction. A writer that does not read is not going to show growth, after reading is a way of learning for a writer. A writer could unintentionally mirror another novel. (I’m sure every writer has had a brilliant idea for a novel in the back of their head, only to read a book that is too close for comfort. Or maybe it is just me.) Also, purchasing a book shows support for fellow writers, which is always a good thing.
- Write a lot. I realize these first two are basic truths that you already know if you are a writer and read this blog on a regular basis. Yet I think it bears repeating due to the level of importance.
- Editing is hard, but necessary. Most writers cringe when the subject of editing is brought up. I happen to be one of them. When a writer self-edits a novel they are searching for their own mistakes and fixing them. Growth as a writer can be the result. Writing is a creative process, while editing is more tedious in nature. My own editing skills have grown over the years, though I do not enjoy the process much.
- It is possible to improve your writing. If you read a lot, write a lot, and edit your work, over time you should expect to see some growth. Looking back, my own writing grew steadily throughout the years. Now, I am a completely different writer. The only way for this truth to be applicable to you is to follow the first three truths.
- Writing is hard. I wish I could lie to you, but the truth is there are a lot of bad writers out there. I have read my fair share, as I am sure you have. While I believe it is possible to improve one’s own writing, some are a lost cause. Bad writing often has grammar, vocabulary, and the elements of style to blame. These are essential to good writing; without them a writer is doomed.
- People will not always understand. I have been chasing the dream of being a full-time writer since I was a teenager. (A quick note: I will never call myself an aspiring writer. I do not aspire to write; I write. I challenge every writer to do the same.) If you chase a dream for as long as I have, chances are you will run into some folks who do not understand your motivation. Some will openly question the decisions you make. My response has always been to smile in return. Explaining passion to the passionless is something I will not waste my time with.I have better things to do, like writing.
- The story is King. I have killed characters, abandoned outlines (when I was still using them), ripped notes, and been completely surprised by a stories outcome. That is because I go where the story takes me. The story is King, and I am but a faithful servant who follows orders. If something is not right in a story, it is usually because I was not listening closely enough.
- Resiliency is not recommended; it is a requisite. During my time as a writer I have been rejected more than the average nonwriter will face in a couple of lifetimes. Yes, I am still alive, kicking, and asking for more. I have moments when I feel overwhelmed like everyone else. However, if you do not have a thick skin, my recommendation is to think twice about entering this business. It could break you.
- It is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. Stephen King said it best in On Writing, “You must not come lightly to the blank page.”
- Writing is a creative outlet that should be enjoyed. Yes, I did just say that writing should be taken seriously. I do not think that means we cannot enjoy the process. If you are not enjoying yourself then it might start to feel like work.
Thanks for reading. The 10 lies of writing are coming next week. Until then, follow your dreams, even if they terrify you.
Stephen Michael Roth