…I Hate About You. Just kidding!. Love the movie though. No, but really: 10 Things I Learned About Being a Writer… This week.
This week my university hosted quite a few literary events. 1) the Grad panel about MFA programs for creative writers. 2) In-Print Festival Round 1: Readings. 3) In-Print Festival Round 2: Q&A Panel. Not to mention various classroom visits by all four of the talented In-Print authors – Marcus Wicker, Eugene Cross, Elena Pasarello, and Sarah Wells. But anyway…
What have I learned?
1) Build a writing community OUTSIDE of school. Writing is a very solitary activity, and once you’re out of school, you don’t really have that community anymore.
2) Give your manuscript draft to people you trust. While you’re still in the editing process, ask someone you trust to take a red pen to it. It makes the process a little less daunting when you know that person won’t take your work for granted.
3) You can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write. Enough said. – Marcus Wicker
4) Don’t be afraid of rejection. I know, easier said than done. Trust me, I know. I cringe away at the thought of possible rejection, but without rejection there can be no progress. And if that one publishing company or literary magazine rejects you, they’re probably not right for you. Go back, edit, revise, reread, resubmit.
5) Don’t let life get in the way of writing. It’s all too easy to let everyday things like bills, work, family, and everyday stress get in the way of your writing. Set time aside each day or week to just sit down and write. Find yourself stuck – read, and read a lot, until something jostles lose in your brain and then return to that blank page.
6) Don’t be afraid of the blank page. Write. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around. It doesn’t even have to be good, it just has to be written. So write!
7) Don’t be afraid of “The Abyss.” That long dark emptiness between projects. Every author faces it. Just push through it, even when it seems difficult or impossible. -Cathy Day
8) Be open to the idea of change. During editing, always be open to the idea of change, maybe there’s an idea you never considered. In the end, it’s usually up to you, but at least hear others out.
9) Grad School, it’s not for everybody. If you decide you want to go, you don’t have to become a professor when you’re finished either.
10) Write. Write. Write. Write. Write. It’s the only way you’ll get things done. But don’t try to set impossible deadlines, like completing a book by the end of the year. Because you will get discouraged and not want to return to the project all that soon.
I wish that flowed as smoothly as Kat’s “10 Things” poem in the movie “10 Thing I Hate About You,” but alas. I do not write poetry, couldn’t if I tried. It will always allude me – the 11th thing I learned this week.