And if you believe that, I have a bridge in New York to sell you.
Being a writer is much like giving birth.
A seed is planted. You’re excited to be growing this entity inside you and you’re full of confidence that it will be the best ever. You share the news, you make preparations, you nourish the seed carefully, anxiously awaiting its maturity. Finally, the time has come to introduce your creation to the world. It’s scary. And messy. Everyone is telling you the best way to birth your creation. It’s hard pushing your love out into the big scary world. There’s even some screaming and some bloodshed.
Finally, it’s out there. For the whole world to ooh and ah over. For the whole world to critique and tell you what you’re doing wrong. You are either the best creator ever or the worst ever – often both depending on whose opinion you are listening to even though you never really asked for it in the first place. You decide never again. It’s too much work and too little payback. You can’t put yourself through all that again.
But then the desire returns. Maybe it’ll be different this time. You know more now so you can do it different, better, more prepared. And a new seed is planted. You start the writing process all over again. You can’t not write any more than you can’t not breathe.
So you want to be a writer? If you feel you must write, then write you must. But first, here is the advice of five published writers to get you started.
Bob Weisenberg: Elephant Journal Yoga Editor and author of Yoga Demystified: The Six Big Ideas , Bhagavad Gita In A Nutshell, Yoga Demystified: Poems & Articles, Leadership is like Tennis, Not Egyptology
Are you a disciplined writer with set times you sit down to write? Do you treat it like a job with set hours? Or do you write when the muse strikes?
Bob Weisenberg: When the muse strikes. Often, though, that’s in the middle of the night. I’ll wake up with an idea and not be able to sleep until I get up and work on it for a few hours. Also, I’ll often have an idea in my head for awhile and get it almost complete before I write anything, particularly if it’s a poem.
Priscilla Warner: I write when the muse strikes, whether it’s jotting down notes on my Blackberry or waiting until I absolutely have to get my thoughts down on paper. I’ve tried forcing myself to write everyday but it just doesn’t flow as well for me that way.
Rick Watson: I write every day. The only break I’ve taken since 2005 is when tornadoes ravaged Alabama last year. Our power was off for 13 days and I spent that time helping our neighbors and friends cope with the disaster.
Suzanne Morrison: Mostly pretty disciplined. I have to write when I first wake up, or else my mind will become flooded with to-do lists and then it will be twice as hard to sit down and get to work.
Meryl Davids Landau: I write for national magazines that assign articles and set deadlines. This forces me to be disciplined. I usually do the magazine work first, then in the mid to late afternoon switch over to my fiction writing and blogging.
Where do you do most of your writing?
Priscilla Warner: To be perfectly honest, I write on my laptop on my bed!
Rick Watson: My office these days is my home where all my reference materials are handy. When weather permits, I write on our screened porch or deck. I find the change in surroundings is a good way to unblock.
Suzanne Morrison: I do pretty much all my writing at home. Although if I’m stuck I’ll walk to a a nearby cafe. Sometimes just leaving the house and going for a walk is enough to get the wheels turning.
Meryl Davids Landau: I have a home office which unfortunately often devolves into the storage room for stuff nobody knows what to do with. At least once a week I like to change the scenery and write at Starbucks or Barnes and Noble.
Did you have any writing rejections before success?
Rick Watson: My wife Jilda and I have been writing songs since we married in 1974. We’ve received enough rejection slips from Nashville to wallpaper our office.
Suzanne Morrison: Oh hell yes! I think so much of writing has to do with finding the right way to tell your story. When you find the right way to tell your tale, things seem to fall into place.
Meryl Davids Landau: Rejection is part of the territory with professional writing. I even had a blog post I had written – which I wrote for free! – rejected.
Bob Weisenberg: Not really, since most of my writing has been blogging related, and before that, in my business.
Priscilla Warner: Yes! I wrote 24 children’s books and sold two. I wrote two screenplays, dropped them off at an agency and never heard anything. A couple years later a TV show came on with the unusual name of one of my screenplays! Copyright your title with the Writer’s Guild!
How has your writing style and process evolved as you’ve grown as a writer?
Suzanne Morrison: I’ve opened up more as a writer. I was always very restrained emotionally, and the more I write the braver I get. At least, that’s the goal.
Meryl Davids Landau: One thing I’ve learned from my years as a writer is everything improves when you tighten it. I always cut from my original drafts and it always makes the writing better.
Bob Weisenberg: Simpler and more direct.
Priscilla Warner: I’ve gotten much more confident in “my voice.” And I’m much less verbose.
Rick Watson: I’ve become more descriptive and better at telling stories that paint a picture in the minds of my readers (at least that’s what they tell me when they stop me in Walmart).
Any advice for someone who wants to write but is afraid of rejection? Or who says they don’t have time to write?
Meryl Davids Landau: Reading is subjective, it’s OK that not everyone is going to like everything you write. The main thing is not to take the rejection of your work as a rejection of your talents. As for time, writing is like going to the gym: if you don’t physically do it you can’t get the results.
Bob Weisenberg: Take a good writing course to get feedback and build skills. Some people can do well with a great book like “The Artist’s Way”.
Priscilla Warner: Some people need deadlines, and if they don’t exist in real life, it’s a good idea to set them up for yourself. I woke up at 5am (sometimes 4:30am) to work on my last book proposal. Writing is work…you have to put in the time.
Susanne Morrison: Rejection is a constant reality and you have to be able to live with it. If you don’t have the time to write, try just 15 minutes of focused writing per day.
Rick Watson: Start blogging daily – it helps you to become disciplined and as you gain followers you will get feedback. And study the craft. I recommend the book “Stein on Writing”.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Bob Weisenberg: It’s worth putting in some effort, but if you can’t find a way to make it fun and enjoyable, you should probably go do something else.
Suzanne Morrison: Read! Please for the love of God. Every writer is a reader first.
Meryl Davids Landau: Don’t worry if you have writer’s block. Don’t force it, push it to the back of your mind and go do something else. Your subconscious will mull it around and pretty soon a great idea will bubble up.
Rick Watson: Very few people get rich writing and if that’s your motivation then you better go buy some Powerball tickets. If you love telling stories, and the feeling you get when you write something good, then you should write.
For more information or to read more from on any of the writers listed: