Please note that I’m no professional in terms of getting paid to write (although writing, luckily, is a part of my current job). Therefore, I can be all “write what you love” etc. hippie. I would never suggest it’s the only way to be happy as a writer – it’s just a MO which currently works really well for me. Hell – I wouldn’t be where I am at the moment – in the middle of one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, at a writer’s meetup, were it not for years of enjoying what I write.
It’s a hell of a place to gaze up at the moon from. Do enjoy it, wherever it may find you – as I plan to, fully.
#1 It’s important to know what it is that makes you tick as a writer. Not all of your writing will revolve around your favourite topics – where’s the challenge in that? – but writing stuff you find fun is one of the best writing tips I’ve heard so far. Self motivation is a bitch, and knowing what it is that motivates you really helps.
#2 It’s important to remember that it’s bound to make someone else tick, too. (If you really need an example, head on over to Ao3 – there’s a good chance for you to find something seemingly tailored especially to your reading taste.) Quite a few writers were revolutionists, especially the well-beloved ones. One of my favourite examples is Anne Rice, whose writing is not that easy or quick to read, but she still has hordes of fans who love just the way she portrays her supernaturals. To put it plainly, someone needs to break the path through the snow, even if the subject of their fancy is not that “popular” at the time of their writing. And most of the writers I’d put in that category – not mainstream enough to be hip, but with a huge fanbase – found their readers years before the internet even came around. How dare you, at this point of time, use the “no one will read my writing because x” excuse, when you have full access to it?
#3 It’s important to challenge yourself by writing honest stuff. Writing about stuff you feel strongly for is hard. Writing honest shit is harder. Dunno, maybe there’s a writer out there who’s in it for the “relaxed” part of the job. Myself, I’m a sucker for adrenaline and deadlines – and saying what I mean. The best writing I’ve done so far (for the blog, for my library column, and for various genre short stories I’ve published over the years) was highly personal. Quite a bit of it was also problematic (not necessarily taboo, but not that far, either) in some way – and my favourite pieces where definitely not easy to write. (Where’s the fun in easy?) Saying what you mean connects you to your text the way nothing else can. Why not use it to your advantage?
#4 It’s important to connect with people who understand what it is what you like to write. I’m currently spending the weekend at a genre writer’s festival (the Festival fantastične književnosti – Fantasy literature fest in Sv. Petar u Šumi and Pazin, Istra, Croatia), getting immersed in three whole days of nothing but writers and whatever’s occupying our minds at the moment. Well, there’s also some lovely architecture, food and scenery in the equation, but you know, it’s writing first, fun later, right? (Right.) Looking back, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have started publishing as early as I have were it not for a friendship with a fellow writer and our bet over who’d be the first to finish three short stories in the next few days. (The wager was coffee, nothing more and nothing less – but it worked.) One of my five pieces (what? we did a second round, shortly after – I won one, he won one) was my first fully shaped story that ever got published. Sure, it was… not up to my current, seven-years-later standards. But I’m still none the less proud of it.
#5 It’s important to acknowledge that you love it and live with it. Writing my fourth or fifth werewolf tale in a row was a lot more fun once I came out as a paw lover and admitted I’m not just in it because I hate the whole vampire craze. (Sure, occasionally a vampire comes along who actually is as hot as the general fandom deems them to be, but still – conceited, troubled and cold-skinned poetry lovers just don’t do it for me. Except when it’s Anne Rice writing them – no, I didn’t pick her as an example for nothing.) Also, it took me years to start writing genderqueer characters and socially sensitive topics – and it was a story revolving around the latter that won me (actually totally unpredictable) my first relevant local literary award. Ha! (And yes – it was a story about a werewolf family – like you’d expect anything different…)
Happy Full Moon – even if you’re not a writer. But may my fellow colleagues enjoy this one especially. We all deserve it, for sure, wherever it may find us.