Having been doing it for a while, I wanted to share what I’ve learnt from writing. Whether writing a fiction book, blogging or creating written content for a client, writing is hard. We can’t win all the time, otherwise, it wouldn’t be hard. At one stage, I thought I knew it all, including not needing anyone. And, while I’ve not royally F’d up, there are things I could have done better. I could have prepared myself for earlier than I did.
I’ve been writing for years, first just for fun and for me, then I began a blog. I’ve also been writing my fiction book (on and off) for the last few years. I began freelance content writing last July. In all of that time, I’ve had to learn some really important lessons about myself, writing and just what I need in my life.
6 Lessons I’ve Learnt From Writing
Here are the six harsh lessons I’ve learnt since writing. Ones I felt I should have known, and others that blindsided me and have since changed me. Writing is hard, whether you’re a blogger, fiction writer or freelance writer.
Not Having A Clear Idea
When writing a book, there are plotters and pantsers. And then there’s those like me, who are neither but also both. The ones who don’t write chronologically, but have a beginning and a clear ending. In writing a book it matters very little whether I have a solid plan or a paragraph idea, as I have time to construct it. But, when it comes to freelance work, I’ve learnt how important a solid plan is. Whether you love planning or not, it is important when you’re working with someone else. Especially if the client wishes to see an early draft. If you can’t explain to them in that draft why they’ve hired you, it can leave a sour taste. So, as much as I dislike having a plan when writing, it is for the best. I won’t be able to write in chronological order though, that’s too far.
Your Vision Isn’t Always Best
Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’m good at what I do. I’ve worked with a number of clients now, some long term and some short term. I’ve had criticism, and I’ve had clients who haven’t gelled with me. Regardless, when you write (whether fiction or not) you have to admit defeat with your ego and acknowledge your vision isn’t always the best. I’ve had brilliant criticism in all aspects of my life. In my fiction book, which at the time stung (because it of course does) but it was for the best. It helped my story elevate itself; if I get the chance to work with an agent (cross your fingers) I will carry that forward.
Of course, there are times to hold your ground. Sometimes though, you have to adapt and try other things. Especially when working with others. There’s a balance you have to find for yourself, otherwise, you may not grow.
Set Time Aside
As someone who anxiously jumps from procrastination to working hard, I used to have an amazing hold on being accountable. I scheduled time to write. I’d put hours aside to nurture my creative side as well as my fun, gaming side.
During lockdown(s), I was great at this, but then I had a lot of free time. As soon as restrictions lessened in the U.K. I’ve been struggling. I hold my hands up. However, if you want to be serious about writing, you have to protect your time. Now I’ve recognised it, I know I need to get back into having scheduled time. So, as much as right now all I want to do is play The Sims 4, I know I need to have protected time. Or else I won’t achieve what i want to.
I now use a ‘Day Calendar’, I can’t find the exact one I use but this is a similar one on Amazon. (Not an AD).
You Have To Believe In Yourself
There’s a difference between humility and not believing in yourself. For me, a few years ago I was the latter but I tried to disguise it as being humble. Under the surface though, I was bitter. I needed validation and I was always doubting myself. I can’t tell you what I did to switch from the latter to the former, but when it did click on, and I believed in myself, I truly think I became better at writing. You have to be able to believe in yourself, because writing is deeply personal, and if you can’t believe in your own work, how can someone else?
When you spend your time doubting yourself, it damages the project. You spend that valuable time, not in your head, and things don’t flow as well as they can. I don’t think I’m the most outstanding wordsmith, but I have believe in my talent, which now helps with selling myself to clients as well as when I approach agents. If you can’t sell you, then who can?
You Need To Let The Bad Ones Go
I’m a people pleaser. It’s both one of my best traits and worst traits. I care so much about others, I let myself down in the process. When you’re working with a client, a concrit group or are even in a space where you feel smashed rather than lifted, you need to get out. There’s a different between constructive and just plain straight criticism, and that’s hard to see sometimes. But when you do, don’t make excuses. I don’t mind constructive critique, but you can’t tell me ‘I just can’t write’. That doesn’t aid me in getting across what you want, and that’s the important difference. If the criticism doesn’t overall help you to improve, it isn’t constructive, and you don’t need to put up with it.
I’ve said this once, but it needs to be said: writing is hard. You don’t have to do it alone.
Having cheerleaders, either freelance buds, blogging buds, writing buds or a group all in the writing holes together, you need each other. You need someone, and they need you. Sometimes you need to rant, sometimes you need to have an existential crisis, and sometimes you just need to go, ‘You smashed that’ to someone.
Since I limited my community down, finding people who really got me and saw my vision, I feel not only connected but I’ve improved as a writer. They aren’t afraid to tell me when something isn’t working, and they are also the people who tell me to ‘Go for it, you CAN do this’. Sometimes, brains don’t allow us to be great, sometimes you need a few other brains to tell you that you can fly. Regardless, find your people, find someone who’ll be honest and cheerlead for you. Also, sometimes you just need someone in that world who gets it, because explaining it to a loved one is just too damn hard when your brain is fried.
There are going to be more lesson. I’ve learnt from writing the things I need to do to grow because I continue to make mistakes or think I know it all. I welcome those lessons. If I don’t grow, I’m not sure I’d enjoy doing what I’m doing. However, I hope some of the above guides you away from the pitfalls I’ve found myself in. Whatever you do, make sure you champion yourself, because I’m going to say it again, three times is the charm: Writing Is Hard.
Consider checking out: ‘Why I wanted To Begin Freelance Writing‘.