On Writing

On Writing

I should be writing.

I should always be writing, really. That’s what they say. Write every day. Hone your craft. Write morning pages before you brush your teeth. Write blog posts on your commute. Write boring words about boring products to get paid actual money, and then write in your lunch break too to sooth your soul. Write in the evenings about little things you noticed that day. Write Tweets promoting everything you’ve written. And then start all over again come morning.

I know all this. I’ve read the articles. “5 ways to become a better writer.” “15 ways to get a publishing deal.” “Top 3 mistakes every writer is making.” “7 reasons why you – yes you, specifically you – are failing at being a writer.” I’ve read them all and then I’ve read them again. Because that’s what writers do, apparently. They write; and they read.

And not just the articles. Oh no, read the articles. And then read Stephen King and Charlotte Bronte. Read the Manbooker Prize shortlist and then the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist. And while you’re at it, read The Guardian and The Times and The Pool and The Debrief and that eclectic magazine that might just give you your first big break, providing you can carve out your niche.

Have a niche, they say. Be the only person on the entire earth who can write the story. Pitch yourself. Sell yourself. Sell yourself better than the competition, because the competition are better than you. They have more bylines. They started earlier than you. They worked harder. They grafted. Hustled. Hashtag bossed it. They deserve it more than you. That’s what they think.

And between all of this – all the reading and the writing and the pitching and the selling and the self-promotion – don’t forget to live. Because, as the saying goes, how vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

So write and read and pitch and sell and promote and live – for fuck’s sake just get out there and live – and try not to have a mental break down while you’re at it, because nobody likes a fucking stereotype.

Or do they.

That would make a great article. I can see it now, on The Huffington Post (unpaid, of course.) “Middle class white girl writes herself into a nervous breakdown. But it’s okay because she’s hashtag talking about it. Hashtag mental health hashtag honesty hour.”

Start a podcast. The future is audio. Or is it video. Either way, nobody reads any more. Turn all your thoughts into pithy sound bites and Tweetable quotes. Invite guests on to talk about their creative process – because that’s what you need. Yet more rules and examples and perfect models to follow. Learn what the masters do and be inspired. Be inspired, but don’t copy. Because you’re a writer. You’re unique. Your thoughts are original. How do you expect to be a fucking writer if you can’t come up with your own creative process, for fuck’s sake.

Turn to Twitter. Hashtag Am Writing. Hashtag side hustle. Hashtag oh for fuck’s sake all I want to do is binge watch season 3 of Skins because everyone knows that generation 2 was the best generation. Write a poignant thread about how hard it is to be a writer, but don’t forget to include that age old  nugget of wisdom. The piece of advice that everybody really needs:

Write every single day.

That is, after all, what they say.

 

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