How to develop as a writer

I knew I wanted to be a writer all my life, and finally, at age 62, I quit my day job to dedicate myself to it. I’ve had to learn how to develop as a writer, and it hasn’t been easy. Becoming a writer is like learning any other profession and I dug my heals in, but to the wrong place in the dirt. Well, not completely.

I wanted to have a blog and I thought I could write witty and helpful blog posts, and inspire and empower my readers. I’d also hoped to have ads so that when people clicked on them and purchased something, I’d get a percentage of the sale. It didn’t happen.

My first year

I spent the first year learning how to develop as a writer for the blogosphere. It took about six months to really get it. I also spent that first year learning all about social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. I learned a lot, but I also got tired of it.

What happened after my first year

After year one I decided I was spending too much time learning about marketing. Also, I was having trouble coming up with topics for my blog posts. I got discouraged because I didn’t feel I had a clear purpose.

The second year, I backed off a little from social media and dove into learning how to become a good writer. That was my original goal and I’d not given it the attention it needed, I took a lot of writing classes from Stanford Continuing Education and low and behold, my writing started to improve. I’ve taken Creative Fiction Writing, Creative NonFiction Writing, Dialogue, and Reading Like a Writer. Currently I’m taking a class on writing a novel.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, Don’t Throw in the Towel, I’d abandoned my blog for awhile, but I decided to get back to it. I enjoy it and I have some new fresh plans, like focusing on the trials and tribulations of a beginning writer. There’s a lot of books and articles from famous writers, with PH.D’s, multiple books, and instructors that teach at some of the finest universities in the world and many have decades of experience and that can be overwhelming. It can make you feel like you’ll never get there. And you may not, but you can still become a famous writer. You have to hone your skills, and write, write, write.

I read a great book called, Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. In the book, Goldberg encourages developing a routine as a writer, which I found very challenging. I would plan times, but put it off, some days I’d write and some days I wouldn’t. I wasn’t alone though, because I discovered that all writers, no matter how famous they are, struggle with writing. As famous author Joan Dideon says: “Get used to feeling like you don’t want to write.” Amen Joan, because I feel like that everyday. But I do it anyway.

This month is National Novel Writing Month, so I’ve developed a routine as a writer because of the class I’m taking on Novel Writing. We have class twice a week, and the professor sends out daily writing exercises or inspirations. I’ve been writing 1500 words a day — including weekends. It’s a first draft novel and when class ends, on December 2, I’ll continue editing my novel and then it to pitch it to an editor.

So about that writing practice

So, about that writing practice… At first it was excruciating; writing and developing a novel with a plot, theme, and characters, and then writing 1500 words a day. But as time went on, it wasn’t so hard to write 1500 words. But everyday, I have my writer’s mini- panic attack; I can’t do it, I’m no good, my work is boring, but then, I start to wonder what new insights I’ll have into the plot and my characters. Somedays I’m shocked and happy. Other days I know revisions await me. But something surprises me every day when I see what comes out on the page. If you’re a writer, or starting to write dedicate a certain amount of time a day to writing. You’ll see this magic happen too. I have some great books I’ll recommend in a future post with writing prompts and instruction.

If you who want to learn how to develop as a writer, through thick and thin, than hop on for the journey. I’m two years in and holding steady.

Until next week. Stay inspired and write, write, write.

Picture of Kathy the blogger
Kathy the blogger

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