For a writer, reading is the equivalent of a carpenter keeping his tools sharp, a baker trying new ingredients, a computer specialist downloading new program updates. Reading isn’t an escape, it’s an education, it’s how we as writers continue to write.
Still, as someone who obsessively plans, outlines, plots and interviews, one of my most beloved tools of writing has stuck by me time and again. It’s not uncommon or revolutionary, not now, but it’s gotten me out of more sticky plot issues and setting questions than I care to admit. Behold the power of the storyboard.
Being a writer is romantic. It’s dramatic. It’s a great conversation starter at parties. Being a writer carries an air of mystery that doesn’t reveal just how many light nights you spent crouched over your edits or pacing around your bedroom looking for names, conflicts, titles or anything that might help you crack through your writer’s block. On paper, if you’ll pardon the pun, being a writer seems like a pretty easy gig.
Through the course of this life, I have discovered words, both by and about writers and writing, that have stuck with me and helped me explain, understand and follow my passion for the art of words and life as a writer. Here are a few of them.
Write drunk, edit sober. The reason for this is that writing is a hell of a lot easier than editing. You don’t need your wits about you to write. Writing is the easiest part of the whole process. You lay everything out on the table and then, later on, you can deal with all the issues.
Well, now it’s later on, and now I have to deal with the issues.
When you measure your type of writing against someone else’s and it doesn’t add up, well, you’re bound to feel inferior, and that inferiority manifests in the favorite of all phenomena, Imposter Syndrome.
They’re all right. Every single person who told you that writing was going to be full of obstacles and challenges and rejections, every single one of them is right. Writing is hard and you should be able to fall back on other skills, and yeah, you probably will be broke, at least for a while.
But the truth of it is, writing – the whole writing process – that’s the easiest part.
Plotters plot and pansters fly by the seat of their pants. I have done both in many genres of writing, including both fiction and nonfiction, and let me tell you–I will never be a pantser.
I used to think I could research my books as I went. I used to delve into plot and character development and setting and think ‘I’ll get to that later’. I used to believe that research was secondary to the fundamentals of writing a story.
I used to be very, very wrong.
And sometimes, as much as it pains me to admit it, writing doesn’t always take the priority.