Reading a lot and making writing a daily habit are bound to make you a better writer. But often, it’s not enough. You have to create in your life the space you need to grow as a writer. You need freedom. And to gain this freedom, you have to give up things and say no to people. It can be painful. But if you’re into it for real, you have to.
Maybe you blog too much. Maybe you turn to blogging instead of revising your manuscript or rewriting that troublesome chapter that’s been nagging you for months.
Blogging is great, but if you’re working on a book, you need to be careful – it can distract you. It’s one of the reasons I don’t blog as much as I used to.
2. Social Media
Is there a greater time-sink for a writer than social media? I’m not crazy about social media, but its many tentacles remain a constant threat.
I have a simpel rule: I don’t check anything on social media until after I write or edit or revise things. I can survive for days, nay, weeks without social media. Can you?
3. The Wrong Job
The world is full of meaningless jobs that create a false sense of purpose. Or jobs that simply serve other people’s interests. I’ve been fortunate enough not to be dragged into any such job. But as a freelance writer, I’ve experienced clients and projects who turned out to be more trouble than they were worth.
If you want to write as a way of life, you need to have the strength to say no to any job that clashes with your ambitions. If you’re a freelancer, choose to have as much control as possible over the projects you take on, even if it means sacrificing money. Otherwise you could be stuck in a loop.
4. False Love
If writing is an integral part of your life, the person at your side should understand this. Not everyone will. You may argue that love is more important than writing, and I agree with you. But you see, if writing is a part of you, you have to accept that; and the person next to you needs to accept it too.
If he or she can’t, they are simply changing you into what they want you to be. They do something selfish. Believe in writing. Writing will help you find love. Readers are the most beautiful people on Earth.
5. Fast Food
Fast food and sitting at your desk for hours is an explosive combination that could get your hospitalized. Get into the habit of cooking your own food. Or choose to work in cafes close to healthy restaurants.
Making it as a writer is tough. It’s more like a marathon than a sprint. It calls for endurance in the face of many uncertainties.
You may not have a steady income. You may worry that the book you’ve worked on for years won’t make you any money. You may also doubt yourself and your choice to be a writer.
But all these doubts, all these uncertainties, are the flip side of being who you really are and not who others think you should be.
7. Other People
Writing is one of the most solitary jobs in the world. It’s for people who not just enjoy being on their own, but who need solitude need it on a fundamental level or they become unhappy (or start acting mad).
8. A Fixed Place in Society
Whether you’ll be immortalized in a statue or wholly ignored is mostly beyond your control. You need to be able to think of yourself as a loose cog in society, one that may or may not ever fit in with others.
Picking up a pen is nothing like putting on a white coat or a uniform so grow a thick skin.
In the end, we are the sum not only of what we choose but also of what we give up. Today, when we are swamped with choices and false comforts, we need to have the strength to say no to retain our freedom.
As writers, we have to give up more than adverbs or first drafts. We have to say no to distractions, other people, certainties, and lousy jobs.
We need to write our life off-page with as much courage as we write in on-page. Otherwise, our words will not ring true, and our writing will only be a regurgitation of what more courageous people than us wrote before us.
Over to you: What else do we need to give up to become better writers? (Not my blog, I hope!)