Greetings, MMW friends. I've decided to take a little time off to ponder my chances of winning a Hugo Award. Hence, it is my great pleasure to introduce my guest writing substitute and friend: Alex Mathai.
Howdy! My name is Alex Mathai and I am a fellow writer! I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and have a Master’s in Library Science. I have been working at the Texas A&M University alongside Mike for about a year now. We became fast friends when we discovered that we both “dabble” in writing and decided to motivate each other by forming a small writing group. After just one semester, we each completed a novel. Mike jumped right into the challenge of self-publishing while I decided to go the traditional route with an agent (still waiting to hear back from them…). Although I am not yet a mommy, I still have plenty of great writing advice to share. Hope you enjoy!
As writers we tend to view the world a little differently. Some might call us strange, but we have our reasons for staring at strangers for an uncomfortably long time, or pulling out a paper napkin at Whataburger and scribbling seemingly meaningless dialogue on it. Our brains are just wired differently than most people. So in honor of our collective weirdness, here is a list of the top ten things writers tend to do:
1. Writers tend to have animated conversations…with themselves
I will admit that I do this all the time. It’s not so bad when you keep it well hidden, but when you start making facial expressions and hand movements to go along with your inner dialogue, that’s when it can get awkward. And don’t even get me started if a stranger catches you doing this.
2. Writers get really great story ideas at very inconvenient times.
Have you ever been about to fall asleep after a really long day and suddenly inspiration strikes? Or maybe you are mowing the lawn or bathing the kids when a vital plot point comes to mind? You scramble for something to write with and something to write on. If you are lucky enough to find something, you end up writing your idea down with a red crayon on the back of the phone bill, which will later be discovered by your very confused significant other.
3. Writers listen to instrumental music for inspiration.
I thought I was the only one who collected soundtrack music from movies, movie trailers, and video games so I could study/write. But I recently read a couple of Twitter posts, both from two of my favorite authors, who claimed to be listening to the same music! I felt justified in my nerdiness.
4. Writers read expansively
The number one thing a writer does is read. They read good writing and bad writing and know the difference between the two. They read voraciously and extensively. They expand their normal, comfortable genres to encompass others that are more challenging and thought provoking. They know what’s “hot” on the market right now, and where the next niche could be. On top it all, reading is just fun and it’s been shown to relieve writer’s block!
5. Writers listen and learn from author’s interviews
I recently discovered author’s interviews on YouTube. Just type in your favorite author’s name and so many options pop up. Hidden in their ramblings and musings, there is some very valuable writing advice. Also, you can find lecture series from authors such as Brandon Sanderson that not only offer advice on writing, but also the business aspect of being a professional author. Plus you can imagine yourself in their shoes: famous, successful, and promoting your next bestselling book.
6. Writers get excited/terrified at the opportunity to meet a favorite author
My favorite author is Brandon Sanderson. I don’t just enjoy his writing, but I admire his entire philosophy behind writing. He writes two to three books a year, which is amazing compared to some authors who write one book a year…maybe. Now, I have yet to meet Sanderson, but it is on my bucket list. In my head I imagine myself striking up an interesting conversation with him, he will find me fascinating and filled with writing potential, we will become best friends and then he will promote my book. But…I know myself too well. I will probably just turn red in the face, mumble thank you when he signs my book and scurry away. But one can imagine!
7. Writers stare off into space
I know, out there somewhere, I have some horrified victims of my staring. It’s super embarrassing when that person catches you, but they don’t seem to understand that it has nothing to do with them. Your faraway, glassy-eyed look should say it all. You are currently in the middle of a climatic fight scene, or the hero is finally profession his love for the heroine, or you are trying to remember all the items on your grocery list…you know, important things.
8. Writers procrastinate
I think procrastination is every writer’s unwanted best friend. It sticks by your side, constantly pulling you to do other tasks instead of sitting down behind the computer and writing. You think “now would be a great time to expand on that new plot point” but procrastination whispers seductively in your ear, “But you’ll fall behind on the laundry and that next episode of Castle isn’t going to watch itself.” We writers just have to be strong and say no…or at least after just one episode.
9. Writers get in slumps
Every writer has had their fair share of “slumps.” I know I’ve had plenty of moments where I am just not in the right place to write. I don’t feel it in my heart. All the words that I type sound wrong and horrible and I have convinced myself that I will never be published. But these moments pass. One day you’ll wake up and feel light and airy. You’ll sit down at the computer and 10,000 words just come pouring out from your fingertips. If you aren’t really in the mood to work on the project you currently have going, choose something else. Work on a fun, quick short story that has nothing to do with your major project. I do this all the time. The short story might not ever see the light of day, but that’s okay. It works to get my creative juices flowing and back in the mood to write.
10. Writers are meant to write
I once heard a wise man (my dad) say that if you lay down to go to sleep and the last thing you are thinking about is writing, and if the first thing you think about when you wake up is writing, then you are meant to be a writer. We write because we enjoy the feeling of accomplishment of creating something out of nothing. We like feeling the power of emotion our words create and the characters that spring to life as our story unfolds. We love (even if don’t want to admit it aloud) the struggle and the frustration that makes all victories that much sweeter. You don’t have to aspire to be published to be a writer. You don’t have to have a major book deal with a hit motion picture on the way to be successful. You just have to write!