As individuals, we all have habits inherent within us. Even more so as writers, who can be the weirdest and most neurotic people on earth. And in our weirdness, we all have some habits and or traits that we can maximize on to help us boost our writing productivity. As well as bad habits which in turn is detrimental to that productivity. And ugly habits we must never take up.
If it takes twenty-one days to form a habit, then the same number of days can be used to drop a bad habit. But which should you garner, try your utmost to curb and avoid like the plaque if you want to become a prolific writer? Any of the following can lead you towards a successful writing career. All you need to do is work hard and a little readjustment.
- We talk to ourselves. Yes, talking to yourself might not seem as a good thing, especially if people will think you’re loco. Or want to put you in a straightjacket and a padded room, when you try to explain you’re only stuck in a heated debate with your character. He/she had said it wouldn’t make sense for them to do what you, the author, had written in a particular scene. For which you argued against that yes it made perfect sense as they would see later in the book. Anyways, I digress…being able to view a fictional person created from your imagination, as a living, breathing and viable person is a good thing. Once your character is as real to you as the person standing next to you, then they’ll be just as real for the reader. And writing such a character whom readers can connect with, like/dislike, and or that they can relate to is within a writer’s best interest. When it comes to character and the story, a well developed character can be the saving grace of a bad story. While a wooden, 1D or 2D and underdeveloped character can pretty much kill a story. So keep on talking to yourself, weird looks and finger pointing be damned.
- We are introverts. Most writers are not known for their sociability. Most of the time, our socializing skills involves reading a good book. And maybe connecting with other readers who’ve read and liked the same book(s). As introverts, we’re often occupied with our thoughts and feelings. We don’t always like to be with large groups of people and find satisfaction in being alone, reading, writing, etc. If there weren’t any bigger hints that writing might be a possible career path for such an individual, then I don’t know what is. It might also be the reason why most introverts are writers. They write because they have something to say. A message, a thought or feeling that comes across more clearly and powerful with a pen than from their own mouths. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re writing genre/commercial fiction or literary fiction. Of if you’re simply following the publishing trends. At the end of the day your story must have an underlying message. So next time you start a writing project, always remember to ask yourself what question are you trying to answer.
- We are daydreamers. Yeah, so we daydream. A lot. And I mean a lot. Out of nowhere too. Our minds would takes us to the other side of the world and then bam! A brilliant idea or resolution to whatever story idea that we’re mired in becomes unstuck. And it’s running faster than a speeding bullet but something or someone just has to pull you back crashing down to reality. Then all the new subplots, story routes and scenes starts to go poof as you scramble to catch them all like they’re Pokemon. (Hint: always carry a notebook and pen with you.) There’s a sense of clarity during this zone out that is sometimes not as reachable as putting our butts in a chair. It’s a not so phenomena that usually happens brushing your teeth, while in the shower or doing chores. So once you catch yourself in a daydream be ready with your trusty notebook and pen. And warn people ahead of time not to disturb you if they don’t want to be killed off in your book.
- We’re often insecure. We often lack confidence in our writing and in our ability to write. We like to doubt and compare ourselves to writers like Mark Twain, Toni Morrison, J.K. Rowling or George R. R. Martin. You have to realize that you can’t be any kind of writer except the writer you want to be. Only you can write your story. Second guessing your own writing will only make it suffer. So to become a confident writer, churning out book after book, you must trust your writing. Trust your own voice. And write, write, write.
- We are introverts. We are introverts. Yes, just as being introvert is a good thing, it can also be a bad thing. If you want to have a career in writing, you can’t just rely on your writing laurels. You’re going to have to get out there and network your pen off with other fellow authors and readers. If you want your writing to be read, then becoming more comfortable engaging with other people is you’ll have to do. In today’s publishing paradigm, authors aren’t just writing whatever story ideas they’ve thought up. They are also marketing and promoting themselves and their work as well. So start a blog or use social media to build your author platform. And engage, engage, engage.
AND THE UGLY:
- We’re sensitive. Maybe sensitive is too light a word. But depending on the individual writer, the range of our reactions linked to our sensitivity varies. That sensitivity can lead to defensiveness. And there’s no bigger sensitive issue to a writer than a bad review. You’ve taken up the mantle of becoming an author and with that comes building a thick skin. You’re not always going to get a glowing review. Sometimes, you will get a scathing, red hot poker in the eye bad review. You’re not going to like it but that last thing you should do is get into an altercation with the reviewer on the phone or via social media. Least of all, don’t show up at their house or their favorite hangout spots. Contrary to belief, a bad review won’t affect your book sales. Readers tend to go more along with their likes/dislikes than a review. If your story can garner their interest and they loved it, you’ve earned yourself a die hard fan. But go off on the bad reviewer, then you risk damaging your author brand. So if you’ve gotten a bad review, you can use it to improve your writing. Or ignore it and laugh it off and focus on your next writing project.
Does any of these habits sound familiar? Are there any good, bad and or ugly habits of writers you’d like to share?