Yes, writers write. But writers do a lot, lot more. You have to feed your writing. From where do writers obtain that fuel?
Writers read. I’ll be returning to this subject, as it’s so important, but it’s a huge mistake to not read. Often I’m amazed when people tell me they want to write for papers and magazines – yet breezily admit they don’t read any. It’s natural to be so enthused about writing that you feel you have no time for reading – but reading gives you ideas and information, and if you don’t do it you’ll run out of things to say, and soon. It’s equally okay to fear that if you do read you’ll subconsciously take on other writers’ styles rather than develop your own – but to some extent this is partly unavoidable, as your style, whatever it may develop into, is likely to be a particular, ever-changing blend of elements of all the writing you have read before, and hence a concoction which is always going to be unique to you.
Writers talk. To each other, to experts, to members of the public. To themselves. (“Just me? No, Alex, not just you.”) For all the reasons I mentioned in Mistake No. 1.
Writers research. How else are you going to get your facts? Of course you have loads in your head, as you’re a very clever person indeed, but you’ll quite quickly run out. More reading, more talking, more sniffing, more digging, more discovering... You must do all.
Writers think. Yes, in the bath; yes, lying in bed; yes, in the queue at the supermarket. But I’m inclined to think most writers do their thinking in front of their screens, either just staring at the words before them, or idly gazing through the window.
And writers do admin. Invoicing, filing, taxation, banking. Not as glamorous as you thought, huh?
Labels: Mistakes, Reading, Research, Style, Writing