How does a writer write? How does a single person have what it takes (inspiration, skill, talent, work ethic) to become a successful writer?
Have you ever been struck by inspiration? Perhaps you weren’t thinking about writing at all. Perhaps you were on a walk, washing the dishes, or paying your bills. Then out of nowhere, the idea for a story came to you. You could picture the story fully written out. The characters interacted with each other in complex scenes that communicated depth of thought and multiple meanings. The setting was lush and exciting, and so alive that any reader would feel like they were living in the pages of your story. The plot moved along at a quick pace, which made the reader want to keep turning pages to find out what happened next. In reality, by the time you got to pen and paper, the story had already started to slip away. Maybe you caught a few words that communicated its essence, but in reality, the story was lost.
So, what happened next? Did you forget about the story and move on with your day? Did you try to rewind your memory and recapture the brief visions of the story? Or did you cut your losses and wrote something new?
Very few writers have the luxury to write only when inspiration strikes. Most writers have to dedicate set hours, personal energy, and hard work to produce their writing.
Just as most of us would be unlikely to work out, eat vegetables, or show up to the office without the external benefits that come with our activities, so it can be a challenge with creative endeavors. Writing is the same. To be able to enjoy and share the finished products of our creativity, we have to write. But, we have nothing to share with others until we have written.
So, how does someone become a successful writer?
Just as a person cannot run a marathon without months of exercise or fly a plane without extensive training, so a writer is unlikely to be successful without putting in the hard work.
Even more important than talent, inspiration, and natural creativity, hard work will see a writer from brainstorming to publishing the final draft of a story. Inspiration is fleeting and unpredictable. The writer can’t control inspiration, and can’t force it to arrive at a convenient time.
What writers can control is their own time. We decide what time to set aside for writing, what supplies we need to write, and who can share our space when we write.
The process of writing takes time, so writers must put in the time to produce the polished stories we want to share with our readers, be they family members or thousands of paying readers. Hard work tends to go down more smoothly with strong coffee and bright morning sunlight. Set a schedule to work at a set time each day, even if for just 30 minutes, and your stories will have a better chance of being completed.
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