Badass Advice from Writers Like YOU!
My friends, I was so blown away by some of the feedback on the “How to Write Like a Badass” series that I thought we needed a grand finale of Badass fireworks. I reached out to the Real Badasses out there. Like The Real Housewives and The Real OC, only, more real. You know?
All of these writers are people to whom I look up. They’re each bright stars in their own right. But mostly, they’re just like you and me; creatives with ideas in their heads, pens in their hands, and hearts on their sleeves. And they themselves, after slaving through the various Badass steps, have some advice to share with you.
I hope you enjoy, you marvelous Badasses, you. And let’s not forget to support each other. It can be a lonely writing world out there, but it’s full of magic, just like the magic you’ll find in the eyes below. Check out their work and send any of your own Badass advice my way. I love hearing from you!
Sam Davidson, author of Simplify Your Life, 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need, and New Day Revolution
- Write often (daily works).
- Write about what moves you.
- Write even when you’re not feeling moved.
Do those three things and you’ll write more (and better) than 99% of all writers (the non-badasses).
Sarah Gerard, author of Binary Star, BFF, and Things I Told My Mother
My best advice is to give your work time — which is to say, give yourself time. Writing is an intellectual and spiritual journey. It’s learning how to think. It’s learning how to love bigger and deeper. It’s searching your soul for the places that need understanding or healing. Which is why it’s important that you do this in solitude. Sure, every writer with some degree of success has a public face; but they also, when it’s time to work, must be able to retreat, reflect, reconfigure, and only then reemerge. Soul-searching is an inherently private task. Guard your privacy.
Becca Habegger, television news reporter for Knoxville, Tenn.’s NBC affiliate WBIR-TV. She shoots, writes and edits all her own video and loves telling stories. Check out some of her favorite work at http://www.youtube.com/BeccaHabegger
Puzzles generally bore me. I think it’s because I have no patience for sitting at a table and fitting together hundreds of small, wavy pieces of cardboard — especially when, thanks to the box in which those pieces come, I know what larger picture they’ll form. However, I love writing, and I often think that process is like putting together pieces of a puzzle. The difference is, I have no idea how the end product will look until I’m done. I write for broadcast — TV news, specifically — and my goal is to tell memorable, factual, 90-second stories, filled with soundbites and opportunities to marry my words to the video I shot. And I’m on deadline to turn the story that day. That said, my process is a matter of chunk-writing: a sentence to introduce the person I’ve interviewed, her soundbite and then a way of transitioning to my next fact…repeat. That often involves rearranging those chunks (see: puzzle) when I realize their order is more compelling or sensical in an orientation different from my initial draft’s. (And the best thing about writing in and rearranging chunks? They’re manageable. It’s intimidating to face plunking out an entire story in one sitting. It’s much easier to dive into the writing process, knowing you only have to produce one thought — or sentence, or paragraph or point — at a time.) Happy writing!
Paul Jarvis, author of Be Awesome at Online Business, Everything I Know, Write and Sell Your Damn Book, The Good Creative, and Eat Awesome
Want to be a writer? Start writing.
Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want: 40 Lessons For a New Kind of Entrepreneur
Remove everything that isn’t surprising.
Bruce Coville, author of lots of things…like, over 100 books…let’s stick withmy favorite: The Unicorn Chronicles. Oh, and My Teacher is an Alien Series. (Bruce gave us permission to use the quote off his website, and said he thought a series on Writing Like a Badass was really “great”!)
Never give up. You must believe in yourself, even when no one else does.People will think you are crazy. They will think you are conceited. You will get discouraged. You will think it is hopeless. You will think you are never going to get your work published. And if you give up, that will be true. You must believe in yourself, and Never Give Up.
I know that sounds discouraging, but if it talks you out of wanting to be a writer, then you probably wouldn’t have made it anyway. I know many people who are better writers than I am who will never be published, because they couldn’t stand getting rejected while they were trying to break in.
Talent is only part of what it takes to be a writer. Luck and courage and mostly just plain old sticking to it are just as important.
Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Devotion: A Memoir, Black & White, Family History: A Novel, Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy, Picturing the Wreck, Fugitive Blue, Playing with Fire
(This quote is used with permission from Dani’s book, Still Writing. It’s a fantastic read for writers seeking comfort, support, and humor in their creative life. A book full of Badass advice.)
Here’s a short list of what not to do when you sit down to write. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t look at e-mail. Don’t go on the Internet for any reason, including checking the spelling of some obscure word, or for what you might think of as research but is really a fancy form of procrastination. Do you need to know, right this minute, the exact make and year of the car your character is driving? Do you need to know which exit on the interstate has a rest stop? Can it wait? It can almost always wait. On the list of other, less fancy procrastinations, when your wild surge of energy is accompanied by the urge to leap up from your desk, are: laundry, baking, marketing, filling out insurance claims, writing thank-you notes, cleaning closets, sorting files, weeding, scrubbing, polishing, arranging, removing stains, bathing the dog.
Sit down. Stay there. It’s hard — I know just how hard — and I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t get easier. Ever. Get used to the discomfort. Make some kind of peace with it.
Felicia C. Sullivan, author of The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here(Algonquin/Harper Collins) and the forthcoming novel, Follow Me Into the Dark (The Feminist Press, 2017). She muses on all things food and feline at lovelifeeat.com, and lives in Los Angeles. She’s also a Medium contributor!
For me, writing has always been a way in which I can make sense of the world. I never consider how my work will be received or distributed, rather I play in a temporary halcyon space where I write fearlessly and without apology. I think that’s the only way one could write — excise and suppress the world around you and get myopic — immerse yourself in the temporary home in which you’ve created, and in that world repercussions and consequences cease to exist. Once you start letting the noise intrude, it takes over the whole story and disrupts its integrity. People always say that you write out your obsessions, the thing, theme or person with which/whom you’re fixated and I think that’s true. Whenever I’m writing a new story I let the characters completely consume me, and I’m just concerned with how I’ll move them forward.
Sean Voysey Olsen, creative director of Amanzi Films, And the Winner is, Breakfast for Dinner, Official Selection for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International, Big Water, and South Dakota Film Festivals
You are lifting rocks to see what’s underneath. Most of the time you’ll find nothing and move on to the next discovery. Not every rock has something that will interest you, so don’t keep digging if there is nothing to be found. Sometimes you startle a dormant scorpion. He’s ready to to pounce and defend his safe haven. You have many choices. You could flee and hope the next rock doesn’t have something worse. You could smash the rock on him and move on. Or you could watch him feign belicosity, and realize just how petrified and vulnerable he is in the light. You can then ask him why he chose that spot, and what he was hiding from. Maybe he’ll ask you what led you to him. He may never leave, but you’ll know where he is and how to find him. When you come back to see him, as you should, look closer.