Really good authors realize that they have to thoroughly understand their craft. They are usually voracious readers, paying close attention to the words other authors write, and paying attention to sentence structure and grammar.
Really good authors realize that they have an unshakable love for writing. They sat dutifully at the feet of their teachers when they were learning the craft. Many now sit dutifully alone in a room at a desk before a keyboard churning out text after text, day after day. Others write with a laptop on their thighs while sipping herbal tea.
There is no set way great authors write or think. They are individuals like everyone else. But usually, they love to write and love to see their thoughts come to life in print. For some writers, it's a choice; for others, they feel compelled to write.
However, ideas can become dictators, requiring writers to have pen and paper handy because ideas can be fleeting. Ideas sometimes like to play hide-and-seek. They can be elusive and as fantastical as paisley butterflies.
The author can, at times, hunt down fleeting ideas and write a fantastic story based on them. Other times, the idea goes so deeply down a rabbit hole that the thought never comes again.
Image: Dream by Wombo
Some really good authors realize that their nemesis is the blank screen even when they have awesome ideas. They get some of the ideas down in excited keystrokes, but then the thoughts fade. The screen turns blank again.
Yet they will not give up. Authors start to type, free-associating, hoping their thoughts will somehow arrange themselves into some lucid cohesive structure where suddenly words grace the screen. It can happen this way. Other times, though, the words become a jumbled mess, and what initially was a great idea with solid story potential, fizzles out.
If she had written with ink on paper, the old-fashioned way, she would wad the paper and toss it into the waste basket.
Many authors strive to show perfectionism in their stories. They feel their work is not good enough and spend unnecessary hours on it. This frustrates writers and many pause their writing.
But really good authors realize that perfectionism has no place in writing:
Perfectionism "is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft" (Lamott 57).
In other words, Lamott says trying to be perfect even before you write your first draft, is insanity. Perfectionism is the enemy and has no place in your writing. We are not perfect beings, and our writings will never be perfect either.
Besides struggling with the element of perfectionism, writers also encounter other factors that threaten to derail their writing. Here are some other issues really good authors realize they must tame sooner rather than later:
It’s nearly impossible to write when your two-year-old child is not in the room with you, and he's quiet. Real quiet. Too quiet! And you know he’s not asleep. You must go and find him and see what he's doing.
What about the cat that's sprawled across your laptop and won't get off?
Some authors work full-time outside the home and have to cull out precious time to write.
Authors may have a large family and many commitments involving them.
Authors may find themselves physically ill, and pain can interfere with their writing. At other times, authors can find themselves grappling with emotional stressors, a divorce perhaps, or anger issues. These can lead to the need to just take a break and do nothing for a while.
Some authors suffer from depression and cannot write while in this state.
If good authors are not overachievers, at least they are persistent. These writers don’t usually make excuses for long. They find a way; they work it out. Sometimes these writers don’t care if anyone reads their work. They just have to write; it’s in their DNA. It’s in their bones.
What do you do when nobody is around, and when you know you won’t be interrupted? It’s said that what you do in these times is what you truly love. Writers, write whenever they can. It’s as simple as that.
When seized with looking at a blank screen, really good authors realize they must interrupt this process by developing the habits of:
Really good authors realize that they are habituated to their craft. Developing great habits takes years, often decades. If nothing else, they are patient.