How to Be a Writer Part 7
Writing — for a writer, obviously the most important job. And yet there is no real formal training or preparation for it. School focuses more on analytical writing, preparing pupils for ‘real life’ — the attention spent on creativity and writing fiction is minimal. Here are five key tips:
1. ‘Only Connect’
As author E. M. Forster put it, ‘Only connect’, meaning that the important thing is to establish a real and grounded connection with others which is attuned to them and their personal needs. Joy is key; understanding other human beings is paramount. Try to cultivate the idea that happiness is the ‘default position’ in life, and that communication is a good thing.
2. Look After Yourself
From sleep deprivation — which can lead to irritability and serious ill health — through to stress, anxiety or depression, a writer is subject to a barrage of difficulties, like most human beings. You’ll need support — from a partner, from friends, from family, not necessarily in that order. Writing can be an isolating experience, and you have to make sure that you are keeping your head above water because you have responsibility for more than just yourself. Working writers can find being a writer really stressful. It’s important to know what it is that makes you feel good and able to be calm, so you can better support your career. That begins with good sleeping habits and a good diet.
3. Give Yourself Space
Allow yourself to ‘be’ and don’t pack every minute full of things to ‘do’. You’ll get exhausted from all the pressure and expectation. You need to have time and space to become more self-aware and ‘other-aware’. Then you are more likely to be able to write about genuine feelings and thoughts. Spend just 10 minutes living in your created worlds — listening, joining in, following your characters. Develop your own vocabulary for talking about life. Giving yourself space also means giving yourself time.
4. Encourage Resilience
Be sensitive and learn to judge how much to support you need; notice what you have done, help yourself to think and create. And help yourself to recognise and recover from knocks and shocks as well as you can. As a writer, any setback or blow you receive is not necessarily a negative: each experience can be a fuel for a creator of fiction. You can ‘pass the pain across’ to your characters, use the lessons learned to write better stories, channel more effective and real emotion into plots.
This is writing as a superpower: an ability to process reality in new ways.