25 Things I’ve Learned After Writing for 20 Years

Filed in The Writing Life by on December 5, 2016 • views: 1996

once-upon-a-time1. Writing means writing when you don’t feel like it. Otherwise you never get anything done.

2. Getting published won’t change your life like you think it will, but it will bring you a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

3. Most of the writing you do will be crap, and that’s okay—it’s the only way to get to the good stuff.

4. You’ll never be as good a writer as you’d like to be or as you think you are at any one point in your career.

Railroad travel5. Experience is the best teacher—writers need to get out and amass new experiences to keep the creative brain alive.

6. Boredom is a sign that it’s time to reinvent yourself and where you want to go with your writing.

7. Most writing advice is of limited use—the best way to get better is to write the next story, and the next, and the next.

8. Some writing advice, though, can be really helpful, if you come upon it at the right time—the key is knowing when to seek it out, and what sources to trust.

9. Sometimes it’s best to cut back on expenses and take a risk than to keep working on projects that no longer excite you.

10. All writing is subjective, from novels to short stories to product copy on the label of your cereal box. Everyone has an opinion, and they rarely agree.

sunset-thoughtful11. In the end, what you write will never matter as much to anyone else as it does to you.

12. Writing for a living is like any other job—fun part of the time, boring part of the time, and often exhausting, but the flexible hours are golden.

13. Even introverted writers need to maintain their social connections to stay mentally and physically healthy.

14. Sharing what you’ve learned about writing with others wanting to write is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.

15. It’s best never to send any piece of writing out before you’ve let it sit at least overnight.

16. Writing conferences are like IVs dripping motivational goodness into your veins.

17. People who aren’t writers will never get what it’s really like.

writing-dark-typewriter-globe-218. Writing often feels like a selfish pursuit—and in truth, it is—but then so is getting a hair cut or eating breakfast and no one questions those activities.

19. If you can’t focus, you can’t write well. The craft requires concentration—something more and more people have trouble with today.

20. With age and experience comes the realization that you still have so far to go to bring your writing skills up to the level of your writing vision; and the realization that you will never accomplish that goal.

21. The ears are a writers’ most important sense, as they provide clear feedback on the rhythm and clarity of the prose.

22. If you don’t get up and move every half hour, maintain a regular exercise schedule, and incorporate some sort of stretching routine into your day (yoga is best), you will likely end up with back and neck problems, while increasing your risk for sciatica, hip pain, weight gain, and muscle loss.

Journal Yellow23. Praise for your writing will always feel good, and criticism will always feel bad, no matter how experienced you are. Eventually, you will grow tired of both and just write for the joy of it.

24. When you are old and gray and close to leaving this world, the writing that is the most personal to you will matter most, but never as much as the people (and other living things) you have loved.

25. The beautiful thing about writing is that there is always more to learn.

What have you learned over the course of your writing career? Please add your thoughts in the comments below!

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Comments (2)

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  1. Love these, Colleen! And isn’t it so true–there is always more to learn. I’m constantly tweaked when I find myself writing better than I did even a week before.
    Great insights!