A whole lotta lists floating around the internet and social media these days, so I thought, hey, Albert, why not your own list on writing? Here goes.
If you’re an aspiring writer, or just a hack like me, here are 5 things I try and do each day to sharpen my saw, improve my craft, or just hack my way through a piece, or for that matter, a day:
1. Reach out – this week, I talked to a NY Times Best Seller’s booking agent for talks, sent a random email to another writer in NY who wrote a book I greatly appreciated just to share information, and inquired with another writer to see if he’d review my new book (forthcoming to an eReader near you soon). What is the commonality here? I reached out. I didn’t know and still don’t know some of these people, and some I’m sure ended up in the delete pile, but if you never reach out, you’ll never get new contacts and new ideas. I’m a bit of a Kevin Bacon joke at law school with my Linkedin connections, but I firmly believe that one should “only connect,” as another writer said, and I make it a point to stretch my brain and my network each week.
2. Write – I saved this until #2, but it’s the seemingly obvious choice for this list. However, all those out there who aspire to write, yet come up with a lot of excuses need to see this one one more time. Just write. Just sit down, pull out the laptop, and start typing. No laptop? Just get a pen and paper. Sometimes and some days, the muse never shows up. However, the more you make it a habit, the better off you’ll be, and the more it will happen. I take that back. The more you do it, the more you will WANT to make it a part of your day. You’ll actually crave it. I do now, kind of like chocolate and coffee. You just have to start.
3. Thank others – I made it a personal goal of mine to thank at least one other person each week in writing. Thus far, with the year almost over…? I would say that I’ve been pretty loyal to this goal. Get some awesome stationary, a really cool pen, and rock it. Go old school. It’s so refreshing to get a hand written note in the mail on top of all the junk and bills, isn’t it? Yet, many people just don’t do this anymore. However, writers do.
4. Read – Again, I know what you’re thinking–thanks, Dr. Obvious–but it really is important to read if you want to get better at writing. You’ll see different styles. You can learn how to respectfully disagree and pen opposition. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, and all of us can read and open our minds, so hopefully we never have to pick up those swords in the first place….just sayin’.
5. Develop eccentricity – This one I’m throwing in for fun. The best writers were and are quirky. Hemingway: I think of Miami, his house, and his beard. Poe: I can’t blog enough words to cover what I feel when his name is conjured up. Each writer has his or her own eccentricities. I’m personally superstitious, and very curious about the world….so my quirky comes from asking a lot of questions, and avoiding ladders and black cats crossing my path. The bottom line on this: it’s about your purple cow. What is it that you want to be known for? What’s your voice? To whom do you speak, and what is it that you want to say? This is what I mean when I say develop your uniqueness. This is what can make you an interesting writer…and an interesting person.
That’s all I have. To those who write those fancy and long 99 things lists…more props to ya. I could only dig up 5 on writing today. Take my advice with a grain of salt, as I’m certainly no NY Times best-selling author…yet. Neither am I a perfect writer, but I don’t aim to be. I just aim to write, and let the “good enough” evolve…