The Writer as Action Hero

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My friend Jim wanted to be a writer. He took writing courses. He bought books about writing. He planned several projects. The problem was, he never actually wrote anything. You probably know somebody like that. They seem to love everything about writing except the writing itself.

Writers who succeed are action heroes. They don’t just think about writing, they write. They don’t just plan their writing, they write. They may not become experts on writing, but they master the craft.

Follow their example if you want to succeed as a writer. Study the craft. Do some planning. Just make sure you write. Here are some things to do if you want to be a writing action hero.

Dive in and start writing.

Don’t start to prepare to begin to get ready to think about starting to write. You learn the most and develop your skills the fastest when you start writing and go from there.

Don’t wait for inspiration.

“Inspiration is for amateurs,” artist Chuck Close said. Then he said, “The rest of us just show up and go to work.” If you wait for inspiration, you could wait forever. So, don’t wait.

Get to rewriting quickly.

It’s true that, “great writing is rewriting.” If you want to do great writing, get to rewriting as fast as you can. Crank out that first draft. At that point, your piece will be as bad as it will ever be. Start rewriting to make it better.

Start each writing session by writing.

Schedule your writing sessions. Then, when it’s time to write, begin each section by writing. The only way to do that is to know what you are going to write in advance. And the only way to do that is to plan which are going to write in next session at the end of every session. This technique has worked for Ernest Hemingway and Mark Bowden. It will work for you.

Finish your projects.

Steve Jobs said, “Great artists ship.” What he didn’t say is that great artists improve because they ship. When you release your writing to the world you get feedback that will make you better. You may also get praise and make a little money. Don’t keep changing your piece in pursuit of perfection. Catch excellence and get your piece out the door.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

You’ll be more productive as a writer and in the rest of life if you take care of herself. You already know how. Get enough sleep. Eat right. Exercise.

Takeaways

Dive in and start writing.

Don’t wait for inspiration.

Get to rewriting quickly.

Start each writing session by writing.

Finish your projects.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

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