One of the most important things I’ve learned about writing is something that, for a long time, I didn’t actually believe. It wasn’t a list of proofreading marks or the magical formula for writing a best-selling novel or a time management chart. It was a very simple truth.
Who you are is more important than what you write.
I really mean that, and not in a touchy-feely, I’m-a-Christian-so-I-have-to-say-stuff-like-this kind of way. I mean it in a raw, your-character-directly-effects-your-writing, put-the-grit-back-into-integrity kind of way.
Yes, I realize that this statement could be taken out of context and misused. Are there successful jerks? You bet. Are there nice but totally untalented people? Oh yeah.
But what I mean is that the more you develop aspects of your character, the better writer you’ll be. I’ve seen it happen over and over again, enough to convince me that, hey, maybe there’s something to this after all.
The advice you give in your blog posts will ring true if you’re seeking wisdom. It will be easier to stick to a consistent writing schedule if you’re developing persistence and discipline. Creative non-fiction and narratives have a way of letting the integrity of the writer shine through in a way that adds to or detracts from the author’s credibility. The more you care about others, the more relatable your characters will become.
With that in mind, here’s a short list of “Things You Should Learn to Love that Everyone Else Hates.”
- Delayed Gratification: Writing is hard work. Sometimes it pays off years later. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to pay off at all. Get used to it.
- Criticism: It makes you better. Really.
- Tact: That said, when editing others, be nice. This is not about never saying anything critical. It’s about loving people and treating them the way you would want to be treated. (That seems to come up a lot.)
- Humility: Read Ecclesiastes. (No, really, you should do it. It’s one of my favorites.) Realize that unless you write a literary classic you won’t be remembered for long, and even if you do, it won’t make you happy. Savor the meaninglessness of life and let it motivate you not to put your value in what you do.
- Facing Up To Your Weaknesses: This includes your writing weak spots and areas to work on in your personal character.
I don’t have all of these traits. Actually, I don’t have any of them, which is why they’re on the list. I’m better at some than others, but I’ll be fighting these issues with God’s help for the rest of my life.
But fighting stuff is fun, guys! We never have to fight anything anymore, and we’ve forgotten both the hard work that courage is and the excitement that comes with victory.
So fight yourself. Fight pride, which is the opposite to all of the things in the list above. Fight doing things the easy way, and it will make you a better person and a better writer.