Friday, January 22, 2016

Notes to a Younger Writer

Things I wish I could tell my younger self about writing:
  1. There are all kinds of armor. Some of them (like the attractive get up at right) protect your brain and lung cells when you're dealing with toxic chemicals. Other kinds of armor can and will protect your heart and soul when you're dealing with rejection letters, the occasional toxic person and the disappointments that are inevitable in any career. Learn these armors. Learn how to don them when needed. More importantly, learn how to take them off because you can't create from a closed up, claustrophobic heart.
  2. There is no 'when things calm down.' It doesn't exist. Do the thing - the thing you keep putting off for a better time. For when you know more. You don't learn by not doing. You learn by trying, by making mistakes, by assessing, and by fixing. Make your mistakes often and early.
  3. Give up caring what other people think of you. Truth is, they don't think of you. They're too busy wrapped up in the dramas and traumas of their own lives. This is both blessing and curse. Yes, you're alone. Deal with it. Because QUICK! No one's looking! You can try out those dance steps you're secretly afraid might be silly. Or that plot twist you suspect will either be brilliant or a train wreck. No one's watching. G'head. Experiment! You can always change it later.
  4. Talk to people. More importantly, listen. Listen to what people say, sure, but more importantly listen to the stories people are telling themselves. Those stories are hidden beneath what they say. PS: Stay the hell out of the dime a dozen dramas that unfold in the industry. They're legion and they will devour your time and life energy if you let them. Also? The death of this genre, that genre, insert your death knell du jour here, or of publishing as a whole has been touted for decades. DECADES. People still buy books in one form or another. So shut up and write.
  5. Write what YOU want. Screw what's popular right now. Your best work will be that which fascinates you, so wallow in your chosen freakiness and get on with jotting it all down.
Most everyone knows that I suffered undiagnosed major clinical depression as a teen and young adult. Until that was finally identified and treated, I wasn't capable of the kind of emotional resilience writing requires. I only say this because too many people suffer mood disorders without getting treatment. If you want to DO something, but find you just can't? Talk to your doctor. Ask to be assessed. If you are suffering from a disorder, it can be treated - which doesn't always mean meds forever. The point is that you have to stack the deck in your favor and if you feel gray all the time that's your life energy and your drive and motivation being stolen from you. You don't deserve that.


  1. "if you feel gray all the time that's your life energy and your drive and motivation being stolen from you." Love it!

    1. Maaaan, I didn't love it. :D Glad I planted a psychoactive med right between the gray cloud's eyes.