by Kathy Harris
If we study the craft of fiction, we can learn a lot of important things, from how to write proper point-of-view to how to format a manuscript. And, while each of these skills is vital to becoming a great writer, there are other important lessons we can learn only through writing, i.e. putting words on paper and submitting them.
Many of these life skills are especially important when we’re pre-published, although we will refer to them over and over again throughout our career. The first four are particularly important when we’re first starting out. The final two are especially important at the point when we are finding success.
So, without further ado, here are nine things you’ll need to learn if you want to be a writer.
PATIENCE — Impatience comes in different packages. We can be impatience with ourselves… or with others. Be mindful of both and give yourself grace (see below), just as you would someone else. Time passes slowly between submission and an agent’s or an editor’s response. Work quietly while you wait. Practice patience by remembering the formula of the three P’s, Patience = Positivity + Productivity.
Action Point: Stay positive. Stay busy.
COURAGE — Fear usually sets in just before we hit send, whether that means sending to our critique partner or to our editor. We writers love to do what we do best… re-write. However, there comes a time when we have to let go. Although we might be able to write it better tomorrow (or with another full edit), that same principal will apply the next time… as well as the next. Set your baby free and let it fly.
Action Point: Practice courage by entering contests and embracing constructive feedback.
SELF-CONFIDENCE — Although similar to courage, self-confidence is most applicable in the early stages of your manuscript. It’s the ‘little engine that could.’ Self-confidence is believing in your God-giving talents—and in God’s ability to multiply those talents as needed.
Action Point: Write with abandon.
FOCUS — Focus is, arguably, the most important trait a writer can learn. It’s the difference between putting words down on paper and staring at a blinking cursor. If you have a focus problem, try moving to a different location, from your office to your back porch. Or from your favorite chair to your favorite coffee shop. Or use the egg timer method. Allow yourself to write for only ten minutes. Take a thirty-minute break. Repeat. Then repeat again.
Action Point: Turn off mail notifications before writing.
RESPECT — No two writers will have the same talents, or the same success. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. And always afford others the same respect. Rejoice in their achievements and comfort them in their setbacks. We will all have both.
HUMILITY— Humility is accepting compliments, not deflecting them. A compliment about your writing is a gift. Accept that gift graciously with a simple thank you.
GRACE — Similarly, grace is accepting criticism, not deflecting it. If it’s constructive, learn from it. If it’s unwarranted or unnecessarily harsh, slough it off and move forward.
OBEDIENCE — Pray often about your writing and follow where God leads.
PROFESSIONALISM — Keep in mind that, although writing may be a calling from God, after you sign a contract with an agent or a publisher, it also becomes a business partnership. Be respectful of your partners in business.
If God has called you to write, He may be trying to teach you something. Patience? Humility? Obedience?
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Kathy Harris lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and writes romantic suspense. She is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency. Kathy’s second novel, Deadly Commitment, releases today. Visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.