Yo, awesome readers!
So here’s a glimpse into the writer life.
Spoiler alert: It’s not that exciting.
As a freelance writer and copywriter (I think I just gave myself a plug), I have a few projects on the go. My most consuming mandate right now is a non-fiction book. It’s a ghostwriting gig.
Of all the terms with the word “ghost” – ghost siting … ghost haunting … ghost appearance – ghostwriting is the least paranormal. I’m almost certain.
I’m really enjoying the process of writing this book. I get to interview my clients to talk about their wisdom and then make sentences out of their thoughts. It’s awesome.
In fact, this project is so consuming that sometimes I don’t even leave my house. Which is fine by me because on some days this world is just too peopley. (And then there are other days when this house is just too solitary. It’s an awkward balance.)
If you’ve ever considered becoming a writer, one of the prerequisites of enjoying the writer life is that you must like hanging out with words as you figure out how to control them. This may happen in your head (which is usually at 2 o’clock in the morning) or on your screen (which can also happen at 2 o’clock in the morning).
Recently, and by recently I mean earlier this week, I was speaking with @WriteBoldly on Twitter about writing in general and ghostwriting in particular. My advice to her:
But then I had a thought: Maybe I should share some writing advice that has more depth to it; without the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter.
Dear My Parents (because I KNOW one of you will ask me this question):
Twitter is like texting but to your online friends. Also, because you can only use a limited number of characters – not letters, but CHARACTERS – Twitter may be the mother of the bastardization of the English language.
R U listnin? GR8. Lt’s move on.
So here we go with a few tips on writing.
Step 1: Writing is about harnessing your thoughts so that you can get them out.
Here’s how this works.
You’re lying in bed or in the shower or walking down the aisle of your favourite grocery store and *POOF* your mind gets hijacked by a thought and you MUST write it down.
Suddenly you’re not sleeping or taking care of your personal hygiene or shopping anymore. Instead, you’re pulling out your phone or notebook or scratching things into a bar of soap. As fast as you can, you’re scribbling down random – although meaningful – words before you forget.
Step 2: The rest of the world no longer exists. (This is the most important step.)
Sometimes it’s easy to just leave your scribbled thoughts to ferment on their own. This is an idea that falls under the category of BAD, BAD, BAD.
Because the longer you leave your scribbled thoughts to their own doing, the more they will morph into something else. And by something else I mean YOU WILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU WERE THINKING AT THE TIME THAT YOU SCRIBBLED THEM DOWN. This is true whether you poured them out on paper, screen, or soap.
You’ve heard the expression, “the moment is now”, right? Well this expression was invented for writers.
You need to act on your scribbles while the thoughts are still spinning in your head. Otherwise you just become a person who talks a lot about writing but never actually does any writing.
(By the way, disappearing with your words may be the biggest occupational hazard of being a writer.)
Step 3: A pre-celebration celebration.
So you’ve scribbled out some words, put some thought into your thoughts to make coherent sentences and paragraphs, and then you walk away feeling proud and smart. Possibly even genius-like. You may even pour yourself a glass of wine to congratulate yourself on a partial-job well done.
At this point you’ll realize that you do not live on an island and MUST return to civilization. If you’re married, you remind your spouse that you are in fact still happily married to them. You may also remind your kids/parents/friends that you are indeed still alive.
This is also a good time to remind yourself that, “Oh look! There is a big, wide world out there!”
Full moons. Taking out the garbage. Receiving texts from your children telling you that they need help with homework. These are no longer just words – tools to insert onto blank pages (or bars of soap) – but actual nouns, verbs, and emotions. Signs that you must also take the time to do some actual living … WITHOUT your friends, the words.
(Caution: This is a pain point for many writers when involved in a project.)
Step 4: You hate the alphabet.
Okay break over and you return to your writing (which has still been swimming in your brain and secretly dominating most of your thoughts; even if you were PRETENDING to be a normal person).
You reread everything you wrote and realize that you’re a failure; an illiterate crack addict that doesn’t even do drugs. What were you thinking???
“What is this mess? It’s CRAP!” You say to yourself. And then you convince yourself that it’s time to apply for a job. A real job. But before you have time to apply for said ridiculous idea of a real job because who would hire a writer anyway, you’re back in the rabbit hole.
Fixing a word here. Moving a paragraph there. Completely rewriting an entire section.
And then your phone *dings* and you look up and you realize that it’s night again. Or day again. Regardless, the opposite of whatever time it was when you got lost amongst the forest of words.
Step 5: After a slight break. (Because even writers need to eat. And pee.)
Once again you look at the mess of words on your screen and it comes back to you! Amazed and refreshed, the vision or feeling resurfaces from that dark corner of your brain and suddenly you remember WHY you surrendered to the necessity of writing about this … the living thing the thought. You remember the reason. The message. The sentiment that needed to be released from your mind.
And once again you fix a word here. Move a paragraph there. Completely rewrite an entire section.
Suddenly (and I use the term “suddenly” loosely here because LENGTHY PROCESS) you reread from the top – out loud so that you can hear the flow of syllables bouncing off the furniture and any pets that may be lying around – and everything makes sense. To you. It may or may not ever make sense to anyone else but it makes sense to you.
And VOILA! The thoughts that originally hijacked your mind are out and you can breathe again.
Until you’re lying in bed or in the shower or walking down the aisle of your favourite grocery store and *POOF*.