Being a writer is a cool thing. If you are like me, you love words and love it when you create something so beautiful that it comes alive. But, over time, there are several things that I have learned, and have realized can become your own undoing.Imitation
As a writer, the worst thing that you can try to do is imitate, especially someone else’s style. It will never sound like you. It will feel like what I hate most – feeling like a robot. Don’t ask me how a robot feels. I don’t even know whether these machines that are slowly taking over our world have emotions. That’s a story for another day.
What I mean is that I loathe, detest mechanical work. Writing has never been about how fast you can write, how many articles you can write in a day, how many words you can type in a minute. Well, don’t get me wrong here. Sometimes, it is, especially if you are a full-time writer and have to pay bills.
What I am saying is that writing is not ideally a mechanical process. It is a life-creating process. In my view, at least, every piece I take my time to pen down should be so full of life, energy, and creativity to carry you along with it. If it is a fictional piece, it should lift you, the reader so high and take you to another world. It should take some time to come back to the real world. You know what I mean?
Well, I will be honest enough to confess that I do achieve this mean feat once in a while. However, sometimes when I am tired and exhausted, and the muse will not come, “a struggle” is probably the best phrase I can use to describe what writing becomes.
What I am saying my dear good readers is that I have learned that sticking to your own style, and way of doing things gives you the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes with every piece of art, including every piece created by the words that flow from the soul to the screen or paper.Disorientation
Closely related to imitation is disorientation. Over time, I have come to the realisation that writing can disorient you. Wait, but what do I mean? What I mean is that, especially if you are a ghostwriter, your writing has to be fluid. Fluid in the sense that you have to be like water put in different bottles with different shapes. You have to suit the client you are writing for. Nothing wrong with that, flexibility I could say is the mark of great souls.
My only problem with this is that one day you will wake up and you will not know who you are as a writer. You will not tell what you like to write about, your writing style, and who you are generally as a writer.
Well, everything has got pros and cons. What I can say is that you need to find a way to re-energise. For a writer that could be a vacation, a new experience, or even a place where you write what you want.Re-energizing
Talking of re-energizing, it has always surprised me how faster I can write, how creatively I can write after resting. Resting here could be a good night’s sleep, a day or a few days off, a visit to a place where I haven’t been in a while, working from someone’s office or at a coffee shop, spending time with people close to me, name it.
I have learned that taking a break allows me to come back rejuvenated and frees my soul to be what it is: a writer’s soul.Humility
When you have written for a long time, in a particular field, it becomes easy to become proud. You know your stuff. You are confident about every word that you pen. Sometimes, this becomes your own undoing. You pen things down and publish them before editing. You stop taking the time to think about structure and flow. You can start writing and things will just flow. The genius of the muse.
While, of course, you could become a writing wizard, thanks to the muse, violating the basics will have you stop on your tracks one of these days.
Have you ever written a piece and when someone read it they criticized it? What did that make you feel? Sometimes, that the other person is wrong. You are right. You feel like you are the soul which nature has gifted with the important task of writing.
A few days later, you, with an open mind read the same piece and it just doesn’t sound or feel like you wrote it.
As a writer, you should never allow pride to enter your creative, smart head. Yes, they may not understand your message. Yes, they may not accommodate your style. Learn to sift through the criticism and hear the message being put across.
I have actually been a victim of this, not very long ago. I will spare you the details, but what I can say is that that was the choppiest piece that I have ever written, at least in terms of how shoddy it was. The information was great but communicated in the worst way possible.
When I finally remembered to be humble enough, I had to go back to the basics. I spent two hours reminding myself how to write an article with good structure and flow. And truth be told, I really needed a refresher course in this particular area.
It is with this spirit of humility that I have actually laid out steps to follow every time I am writing, and I keep checking to ensure I am on track. Unless of course, when the muse visits. Remember, flexibility is a mark of greatness. Balance though must be achieved.
Well, these are some of the things that I have learned as a writer in the last 5 years or so. Let’s engage more in the comments