I’m still (and probably always will be) figuring out how to be a writer. This means I spend a lot of time reading and thinking and asking other writers and artists about their creative processes.
Through extremely inefficient experiments (i.e., trial and error and a lot of drafts), I’ve come to realize a few truths about writing—truths that I will, undoubtedly, revisit and revise many, many times.
Value the days when the right words just come to you, but don’t rely on them. They will be hugely outnumbered by the days that you need to search for what you’re trying to say.
You will fail. You will be rejected. You will feel the wind is always blowing east and all you want to do is go west. Tenacity. Patience. The ability to talk yourself down from the giving-up cliff. These are what will get you where you want to go.
Accept early on that there’s no such thing as a “perfect writing space.” Phones will ring, baristas will spill coffee on you, and your apartment could have the acoustics of an elementary school gym. Wipe off your pants, order another coffee, put on some headphones, and write anyway.
If you can, live in New York City for a time, do it. It’s a place of serendipity and heartache and glamour and grit. It’s a place that stays with you always.
If you are reviewing someone else’s art—whether it’s a dance, novel, painting, or piece of music written for kazoos—remember that there’s a person behind the work and that it’s possible to be honest and entertaining without being cruel.
Research writing. Read about writing and writers. Talk about writing with friends. Try out classes and workshops. Be willing to study and work really, really hard.
Some great books about writing & creativity
“We cannot 100 percent know the depth of another person’s heart. We cannot know the whys and whats of his soul. This idea could be sad, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of rendering human beings powerless, it could render them more compassionate. Knowing that the stranger who just bumped you in the hall or that the awkward loner who sits behind you in class each have a story, makes it easier to chose kindness — again, again, and again.”
“I think inspiration is strongest when I find a balance between observation and participation. You can’t write about what it means to dance by watching from the bleachers.”