Have you ever noticed that really dedicated people tend to obsess about their work? I use the word obsess because that is what it looks like to the rest of us, but dedicated people will tell you that it isn’t an obsession, it is a lifestyle. And it is. At a certain point, the dedication becomes second nature, because the brain dictates what is important.
Your mind is a muscle, it will think about the things that you typically think about. You can train it, exercise it, and it will pay off. In interviews, Stephen King says he has “so many stories to tell”. Many new writers I know say they can’t “come up with a good story”. Interesting isn’t it? The reason behind this is that Stephen King is a professional writer, and his brain is trained. His brain recognizes stories, produces them, lives them. The budding writer has no such advantage, but the brain can be trained.
Keep a Journal
New writer’s who seek advice hear this all the time. People say it is to help improve your writing skills, and it is, but not in the way that you think. Writing in a journal will not refine your prose simply because you are writing in a journal; practice makes consistent, not perfect. No, writing in a journal keeps your mind in the writing mindset, and it makes your brain analyze your life in writing. This helps you recognize stories, traits, characteristics, human nature. Keeping a journal is vital.
Have a Word Count
You need to write everyday. Writing for a writer is like running for a runner, you need to do it consistently to improve. It seems obvious, but many self-proclaimed authors I know barely write. Have a word count, maybe 1000-2000 words a day, and just write. It doesn’t matter if it is bad, or if you don’t care for the plot, the point is that you are making yourself do the work and that is by far the biggest hurdle.
Read like a Writer
Read for syntax. Read for plot. Read for characters. Question the books. Why is this character so gripping? Why am I angry that this person betrayed another? Why does this paragraph flow so well? Start training your brain to realize these things, and eventually it will come naturally. Apply it to your writing.
Have a Community
Talk with other writers. Having a writing community is incredible, because it keeps you responsible for your work. Make writing a bigger part of your life, let it influence your friends. Most writers I know don’t get to talk about their work very often, and talking about our work helps us deal with mechanics and plot. It doesn’t make sense NOT to talk about it with people, because writing is who we are.