There are a lot of different opinions out there about what writers need to do to be successful. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert. Sure, I think I have a damn good idea, but really, it depends on the people involved and the stories they’re writing.
However, as a fiction writer, there are a few great habits I think other fiction writers should strive for in their everyday lives to improve their craft, broaden their minds, and open themselves up. These are things I try to do every day, whether I succeed depends a lot on my mood, my workload, and whether or not I ever changed out of pajamas. You know, we all have those days.
Anyway, I sat down and thought about the habits I think help me most in my writing. I came up with eight.
Write a little bit every day.
It’s important to simply work. I have this blog, which keeps me busy. I also try to work on Martyrs, whether it’s rewriting or revising scenes or writing synopses or query letters. Either way, I write every single day. It keeps my tools sharp.
For fiction writers especially, the characters you develop are one of your story’s primary elements. It’s a good idea to watch the way people behave, take note of the way they look, and try to replicate it in writing.
Harder, but try to understand people.
But do more than watch the way they behave, try to understand it. People are interesting. It’s easy to forget that and get caught up in the belief they’re all broken. Maybe they are, but the more you understand them, the better you can write them.
Read great stories.
Nothing really pumps me up for writing as much as reading a truly excellent book. Additionally, great stories can really inspire us and give us ideas of our own to plant and cultivate until we build our own unique, fantastic worlds, characters, and plotlines.
Read awful stories, too.
There are two sides to the fiction world: there are the good books, and the ones so bad you wonder how they got published. Bad fiction does two things for us: it gives us hope that we can get there, too, and it helps us learn what we don’t like and what not to do.
This one is pretty broad. Listen to your readers. Listen to critics. Listen to your friends and family. Pay attention not only to dialogue to better adapt it to use for your writing, but listen to commentary on your book. Don’t get upset, simply listen. Almost all opinions are valid.
I carry a notebook around, and I take notes on my phone. Note things that interest you, things you want to look up, dialogue lines you like, people who inspire you. Write authors you want to read and books you’re suggested.
Take a walk and breathe.
And finally, take some “you” time. I like to go on a walk and breathe the fresh air (easy, since I live relatively remotely). It helps me clear my mind and spend some time with just me for a moment. Sometimes the dogs are along, but they’re quiet company.
Anyone else have any habits they’d like to add to this list?