Whether you’re finally biting the bullet and sinking your teeth into a book project, or churning out fiction like a factory, or engaged in more technical or journalistic writing, whether you’re writing for work or pleasure, or therapy, if creativity and productivity are your goals, here are five promises to keep.
Time after time
The most common excuse a lot of out-of-practice or aspiring writers make is that there’s never any time to write. Yes it’s true, life is busy, and everything from work commitments to social requirements have us running like hamsters on a wheel.
Which is why, if writing is important to you, you have to make time for it. Give yourself small, manageable daily writing goals, like “Today, I will spend twenty minutes writing 500 words.” Whether you’re banging out an essay on your coffee break, or freewriting to while away a traffic jam, if you put your mind to it, those small goals will, over time, result in a boom in productivity.
I did it my way
If you spent any time at the Dhaka Lit Fest earlier this year, and sat in on the writing-intensive panels, you’ll have discovered that each writer has his/her own process. Some approach their work as a general would a battle: all strategy and outlines and character banks. Others fly by the seats of their pants, making the whole process a journey of discovery. The thing to remember is that there’s no one magic formula that fits all. You need to find a process that works for you, and then stick to it.
Revision is an essential part of writing, no matter how proficient you are. While you want to press mute on the self-doubt that makes you second-guess every word you put down on paper, you also want to revise your work even before you finish, especially if it’s a big project, like a book. This will save you from writing yourself into a corner, or having to rewrite the whole thing again. You can lean on version control software
, or commit to a pause every now and then to read back on what you wrote, and clean up the typos and grammar.
Even if you’ve found your genre and voice, too much of a good thing can get old pretty fast. So this year, aim to try a style of writing you normally wouldn’t - whether it’s an attempt at poetry, or a really purple love letter. It might totally end in disaster, or you might surprise yourself and create something amazing. Either way, you’ll walk away from the exercise with a better understanding of the craft, and maybe even a few new weapons in your arsenal.
This is who I am
Like any other creative field, writing also gets its share of groupies and wannabes who aspire to the label without so much of an interest in the actual act of writing. And, as with any other creative field, it’s common for the actual creative to feel reluctant about embracing the title before s/he has achieved a certain level of success in the field.
If writing is something you want to do for real, there’s no shame in calling yourself a writer. Ask yourself what it means to you, and what your long and short term goals are, and you are that much close to realising those goals.