©2011 Odilia Rivera Santos
HERE ARE MY TIPS FOR BEING A WRITER
1. Be audacious enough to call yourself a writer. And don't complain about the books being published and the kind of books you'd like to see published.
""If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." — Toni Morrison
2. Turn off the TV and create a reading and writing schedule. In order to have something to write about, you must read. This is one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a writer.
You must remain a student for the rest of your life; otherwise, you fall into the trap of writing only of your own individual experience through a narrow prism.
If you have always been interested in philosophy, check out the reading list of an undergraduate intro to philosophy course and get the books from the library.
Exercise: Keep a Book Book in which you jot down important quotes from your readings or questions that arise.
3. Learn to view an event from perspectives very different from your own. This will improve your ability to write three dimensional characters and dialogue. No individual/character is one-dimensional; this is one of the telltale signs of bad writing. Even a villain was once a cute kid with dreams.
Exercise: Write the autobiography, in the first person, of a lover, relative or close friend who has hurt you -- it will help you have compassion for this person, gain a deeper understanding of their character and learn to write a three-dimensional villain.
4. Go to a museum or café and listen to a conversation. Jot down some lines from the conversation, not to eavesdrop, but to make note of the cadence, vocabulary, rhythm and pauses of different personalities. This will improve your ability to write dialogue because writing a short story differs greatly from writing a conversation with its starts and stops.
5. Always make connections with individuals who are talented writers or avid readers, so you can get feedback. This does not require money or that you take a writing course.
You can use Facebook to create a community of writers. Regardless of your topic or niche, you can always get important insights from strangers and friends who are interested in the written word.
6. Write everyday. Writing is what you think it is: pleasure or torture.
Ideas come easily if you program your mind to produce, which is a matter of setting up a writing time.
When I used to go running every morning at 6 am, my heart rate would actually go up at about 5:30 am because the body has a memory. My body knew I would be running up and down hills at 6am regardless of the weather. The human brain works in the same way to produce creative work as your body does to get adrenaline going for physical labor.
Write a list of assignments on Sunday night for the coming week and stick to your schedule.
Exercise: do a 20-minute free-write for each word.
love, work, money, music, sex, wilderness, magic
Post the free-writes on a blog and send me the link, so I can insert your stream-of-consciousness here for other writers to peep.
7. Be supportive of writers you admire. Remember to congratulate writers who are doing well and to encourage those who are struggling. Building a community requires compassion and engagement.
8. Submit your work on a weekly basis. Keep a chart with name of piece, name of publication to which you submitted work, and date piece was submitted. If you want to improve your editing skills and ability to produce writing more quickly, take a writing course. A writing course is the most expedient way to become a great editor of your own work.
9. Organize writing salons to share work once a month. There are many community centers, churches and art spaces renting space at a very reasonable rate. You can charge a monthly fee for each group member to cover cost of space or find a location where a group can gather free-of-charge. Writing can be very solitary and it is good to interact with humans. Keep yourself engaged with other writers through taking a course, salons and public readings.
10. I am not a fan of competitive artists or competitive artist events, so I won't attend any at which people are assigned numbers after reading their work; it makes me think of ice skating.
Go to readings in which people are dedicated to the art of writing, not competition. This is where you will meet people who are encouraging and want to discuss literature and artistic aspirations. I attended The Asian American Arts Alliance performance and open mic night in New York City; it was a great crowd of talented, dedicated unpretentious artists
11. Promote yourself as a writer everywhere you go and on every post. Oh, here are links to my other blogs.
Buy my e-book! Latinalogue, Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part I
Take a writing class with me! http://skl.sh/lGWoDn
Get this blog for your Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/6yjk637
12. J.K. Rowling is self-publishing her next book. Consider self-publishing a short e-book; it's free, it's relatively simple and the real challenge is marketing.
If you do not feel ready to be your own editor, hire a writer to edit your tome. But just get it out there. E-books are great for many reasons. They will not clutter your apartment, the profit margin is excellent, you can upload a book a day if you wanted to, and you control the process.
Imagine, create, release!
Parts of this post originally appeared on my other blog: People for the Ethical Treatment of Puerto Ricans. http://peopleforpuertorico.blogspot.com/