Three Things… Every Writer Needs

 

1. A Room of One’s Own. Your room could be a tiny table smooshed into the laundry room. It could be the living room couch after the kids are in bed. It could be on a bus, or at your desk during lunch break. Any way you slice it, it’s a quiet space for you to work, and the beauty of it is, that can be almost anywhere. But that’s only half the story. To really have A Room of One’s Own,  you need to fight for tranquility. A cluttered, messy house steals away your Room. So do ill health, money headaches, and dramatic or abusive partners. Toxic partners are vampires of creativity; you may think you are getting love and good story fodder, but they will suck out all your juice and leave you to pick up the pieces.

If you’ve got enough of item number three on this list, you can power through worry, woe, and distraction, but the more troubles you add, the tougher the going gets. Minimize what you can: take half an hour every day to tidy up your living quarters, reduce time spent with friends or family who you know will drain you, and take your vitamins. Seriously. Take them.

2. Hungry Eyes. Where do you get your ideas from? It’s simple. Everything. Everyone. Everywhere. Is Fair Game. A writer eavesdrops in cafes. She stares out the window during her commute, soaking up every detail of the scenery. She watches television and movies not to unwind, but with an eager mind, paying close attention to how an emotion is handled or plot twist is unfurled. And she reads everything she can get her hands on — everything. All this stuff is fodder for the idea machine. And the machine is hungry. You won’t get that aha! moment while you’re washing dishes if you don’t gobble up the world first.

3. True Grit. You need grit to carve out your writing time. You need grit to get your butt in the chair, every day. You need grit to talk about writing with other folks, like-minded or not. You start out timid as a fawn. You write 100,000 words. You feel bolder. You start to submit. Sometimes you strike gold early. More often than not, you will be rejected, over and over again. First, form rejections. Then, personalized ones from the editor. And, once in a very great while, a sale. I suppose, with enough success, the sales start to come easier. I wouldn’t know; I’m not at that point yet. But I remind myself of Stephen King, who kept his rejections on a nail in his bedroom wall; eventually the nail fell out and he had to use a railroad spike. And then I get another story in the mail.

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