Habits and the EarthGirly
Once upon a time, I started every day off right: I read industry blogs over breakfast. This got me into the writer mindset immediately, kept me up-to-date on what was happening in the world of publishing, and, if I was lucky, gave me ideas to put into my own writing.
Ever since my baby turned into a rambunctious toddler, I’ve stopped doing this. There are now too many things to fit in immediately upon waking that I don’t have the space to sit and “just read.” I feel like I only get a few spare moments to read in peace (deceptive and untrue as it may be), and I don’t want to use it up on “frivolous” things. Because my husband and I made a choice when we first got married that I would write instead of work, we’ve lived the life of the starving artist. I didn’t regret that decision at all…until the economy fell apart and I suddenly had zero job prospects when I needed them. I still need them, years later; I would like to no longer worry every week about whether or not we have money to buy things like food and toilet paper. I would like to be able to take my son to the zoo occasionally without saying, “Here are the animals! Now expect nothing but nutrition-less pasta for the next week.” (Then again, he’d be excited: “What? Animals AND pasta with NO veggies to hide from? Best. Mommy. Ever!” In his own toddler-like, non-verbal way, of course.) When faced with the necessity of finding a job, reading industry blogs really does seem sort of frivolous.
For the first time in years, I have no one but myself to look after (the boy-folk are visiting the in-laws). And what did I do? I woke up, fixed myself breakfast, and read industry blogs.
Immediately, I was struck with how different it makes me feel. Within five minutes, I’m both student and professional. I feel confident and energetic. I want to go play with my words, explore my worlds, pal around with my characters! I’m optimistic about my future prospects, and I can’t wait to get started!
Which tells me this: In order to be successful as a writer (as an author is another matter entirely, one I’m still learning about), I need to begin my day in the writing world. I need to make thinking about writing as much of a habit as I’m trying to make the act of writing. I need to begin with wordsmithing so it will be easier to smith words when I find the time later in the day.
I’m also hoping this will help me squeeze words in where I can, rather than waiting for an opening. We’ll see!
This week, I want to start every day with industry blogs. At least two posts on nothing but writing. I have a link of publishing folks on my side bar; these are the people I find helpful, inspirational, informative, or just plain fun. Some of them I’ve been following for over a decade while others arrived in the last couple of years. I’m going to actually start reading all of them again!
If you’re a writer, I want to stress how important it is to delve into the minds, hearts, and professional opinions of other writers. Especially the ones who write better than you do. Because someone out there always writes better than you do. Maybe it’s just one aspect – character, description, dialogue – but somebody (and probably many, many somebodies) does it better than you can. Find those people. Read their work. Read their blogs. Learn what you can and let your unconscious mind absorb the rest. Because eventually, it comes in handy. You may not even realize you’ve learned something until one day you look back over your writing and say, “Great gobs of galleon grease! When did I learn how to show vs. tell so well? I rock!” There is no substitution for learning by observing in writing. While we can take classes and be taught the rules of our elements, there is no guarantee we will actually understand how to bring them together. Observation, letting our critical thinking happen when we’re not being tested on it, is crucial to becoming better writers.
Speaking of which, I also need to start reading books more often (read: again). But that’s a tale for a different post.