Just write. BOCHOK (Backside On Chair, Hands On Keyboard) must be every serious writer's motto. Why? Because the mind is like a muscle. If you don't use it on a regular basis, it will atrophy. And discipline, though a vulgar curse in today's culture, is still a trait shared by all effective authors.
Nonetheless, here is my list:
- All writers are readers. I have been an avid reader all my life. On August 5th, 2010, I started a list of books I completed reading. Today, 1,754 days later, I have read 209 books which averages a book every 9 days. Believe it or not, that is pathetic compared to my youth when I was averaging a book every five days.
- I have the best critique group in the world. From my reading of other authors' blogs, to get a good critique group is like winning the lottery and I won big time, but it took me 17 years to find and cultivate them! The other three members of the group are priceless to me and in almost every one of my collections, you will find they get credit for their invaluable and many times stinging critiques.
- I write, write, and write some more. Many times it is sheer drivel, but real writing comes with revision.
- The English language is fascinating, Writing is a torrid love affair filled with moments of ecstasy and broken hearts. And I never stop learning, My library on the craft of writing is huge and many of them are stylebooks and reference manuals. By the bye, you do own a dog-eared copy of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, right? Right?
- I write for an audience of one: myself. I write what I like to read and I'm delighted to find an audience that shares similar tastes.
- Be aware there are always people who will despise what you write, but as you are to write only for yourself, that's okay. I know it stings. Producing a short story or novel is like having a baby and nobody likes to hear that their baby is ugly. It's okay. Keep writing and don't let critics and naysayers stop you.
- I listen to music while I write, but that is a very subjective experience. On Spotify, I listen to Epic Study Music compiled by a Michael Liu. You may find it distracting, but I find it empowering. Play with various styles.
- There will be days you will find no joy in writing and you will actually end up hating your work. Keep writing. It all works out.
Don't sweat titles and character names. Keep them to the last. In my works in progress, I use the title, Untitled, and I use the names of my friends, family and enemies, changing them before I publish. (An aside: twice I forgot to change the names and the stories were published with the names of my friends intact within the story. Fortunately, I have gracious friends.)
- And never stop writing. Never.
All graphics taken from the website, Authors Publish Magazine.