I know that it is my life that moulds my writing. My life’s experiences, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been too, even my own wishes and fears, they all find a place in my writing. But it is not a one-way street. If my life guides my writing, my writing also has its influence on my life.
I’ve been a professional writer since 2007. I’ve abridged books, edited books, written books, and published books. I’m also a blogger since 2011, I think. And all this writing has made me discover myself, explore my abilities, challenge my skills, and given me numerous lessons.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learnt by being a writer:
1. The first step is the hardest. But if I don’t begin, I will reach nowhere.
It does not matter whether I’m writing a novel, a story, or a blog post. Its beginning is always the hardest part for me. One wants to be perfect from the very start. But there’s a multitude of choices. And a maze of fears, doubts, confusions, and possibilities.
But I must force myself to start. None of my stories will ever finish if I don’t write that first sentence, first paragraph, first page, first chapter. I must stop procrastinating. I must take that first step, no matter how scary it may feel. Because if I don’t begin my journey, how would I reach my destination?
2. It’s good to have a plan.
Even before I begin writing, I know where I want to take my story. And I know the main turnings I want to give it. My story is plotted to suit the characters. Characters are developed to match the demands of the story. My novel’s plans may not be more than broad outlines, but they are there to map the route of my pen.
It is my writing that has taught me the importance of having a plan. It cuts down on confusion, makes the journey smoother and surer, and prevents wastage of time.
3. Plans don’t always work out, but that’s ok.
Plans are important. But even the best-laid plans don’t always work out. As I wrote in my novel You Came Like Hope, “The trouble with making plans is that they are laid on present’s roadmap. But Life walks on ever-changing roads. Today’s paths seldom exist till tomorrow.”
While working on a book, unforeseen roadblocks can appear. Plot holes might spring up. Characters might refuse to obey my orders. An event in the world may necessitate a change in the story. So, I must always remain prepared to adapt and change the course.
Not everything is in my control, but that’s ok. I must not let the setback deter me. I must rethink, rework, redesign my story, and write on. My efforts only are in my control, not the rest of the world. And I must accept that and do the best I can.
4. Every problem has a solution.
No matter what hurdle I face while writing, no matter how badly my plan gets wrecked, I can find a way out of it. Sometimes in a day, sometimes in a month or more. But I CAN find a way out. There’s always a way out. I only need to keep trying. Even if it means changing my well laid out plan or re-doing its entire structure. Even if it means deleting three long chapters, or giving up on a dear character. Anything, to find a way out and continue moving ahead.
5. Every new challenge is an opportunity:
Every book or a piece of writing is a new challenge. And every challenge is a chance to sharpen the skills, use new knowledge, and get better. I must not turn away from challenges. I must not limit myself within my comfort zone. Because it is fun to tackle new challenges. It is fun to learn from them and let them make me stronger and better, so I can tackle a bigger challenge next time.
6. I must trust myself.
Every writing piece I begin seems daunting in the beginning. Every new book feels like a challenge. Sometimes, I may feel that I lack the ability to meet the challenge. Sometimes, I may doubt my ideas. But I must trust myself. I have done well before. I’ll do well now. And I’ll train myself to get better and better.
I am good. I know my worth. And I will be proud of myself and believe I can write what I want to write. I can do what I want to do. I trust myself.
7. I will make mistakes. But it is ok. I will learn and get better.
Even the greatest master is still a student of his craft. I am no great master. I have some skill, but there’s so much more that I still have to learn. And I will make mistakes in my journey. That is ok. Mistakes are natural in the path to learning. I must not let them pull me down. The important thing is to keep on learning and trying to get better. And check and re-check my work. Because I will make mistakes.
8. It pays to give attention to details.
A book is a world in itself. And in this world, little things matter as much as big things. Little things can make or break a story. The time of the day, the month of the year, the direction of the house, the condition of a houseplant, the food on the plate, that little spark in the eyes…every little thing matters. And it pays to be attentive to these little things to make the story real. It pays to be attentive to the details because it’s the details that lead to perfection.
9. Stay focused on your own page.
Everybody else may seem to be better. Everybody else may seem to be luckier. More successful. It is okay. I can only control how I am. So, I must remain focused on my own page and write my best on it. Because if I keep on looking at others and letting them sway my feelings, I’ll lose sight of who I am and what I want to and need to do.
10. It’s good to be me.
I don’t need to do as others do. Because I am not them. I am me. And it is good to be me. I cannot write like the others. I must not. Because I will always be best at writing as myself. As I will be best at living as myself. I need not drown my voice to adopt a popular style. I need not change my colour because some other colour is more in trend. It is best to write as I want to write. It is best to live as I want to live. And let others do the same.
11. Self-discipline is invaluable.
The world is full of temptations and distractions. It’s too easy to take a detour which might be easier, more attractive, but keep you away from your destination. It is too easy to halt when gloom hits you, or when a sparkling chimera pulls you towards it.
This is why I need to hold my hand and keep myself on track. This is why I must discipline myself. Fun and rest are invigorating and have their value. But I am chasing a big dream. I can have my bit of fun. But I have set my goal so high, I must work hard to reach it.
11. It may be hard, but it’s worth making an effort.
Writing is hard work. So is living. But both are worth the effort. With diligence, determination, and persistence. No matter how hard it seems.
It is possible I may never reach the destination of my dreams. But I’d still have travelled a long way and achieved much on the road. All I need to do is keep on walking, keep on trying, keep on learning, overcoming the obstacles and enjoying the rewards that come on the way. Because it’s worth it.
So, these are some of the life lessons I’ve learnt from my writing. I don’t say that I’ve mastered them all. I suppose, I never shall. But I’m trying.
I believe every profession has the capacity to teach valuable lessons. What have you learnt from your profession? Do share.
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