I came across this on Reddit, the other day, and had to share. The original post is located here:
I wish I could speak to my 14 year old self and tell myself a few things. 14 was around the age I “decided” to become a writer. So please read what I have to say with some open-mindedness and attention. This comes from the heart.
So let me get this straight – you were told to lower your expectations and think instead about how you’re going to get a “real job?” You were told your writing sucks, and it’s too competitive to get ahead nowadays. But you have a strong desire to prove them wrong and “become a writer.” Is that it?
Here’s the biggest thing: Everyone is going to have their own damn opinion as to what you should or shouldn’t do. When you are younger these things matter, because you are still forming your self-worth and are looking to other people to guide you. Your parents. Your friends. Your teachers. You think they might be pointing you in the right direction.
But when you get older, you will realize that no one has anything “figured out.” Everyone is struggling. Your English teacher is struggling. Your parents are struggling. And you will struggle too.
The truth is, when you’re an adult, as long as you pay your bills and have “your shit together,” there really are no rules. Who knows what you’ll end up doing for a living?? Maybe you’ll make your money by “Web 4.0″ blogging, using micro-computers we can’t even imagine. Maybe you’ll be a great writer of old-fashioned novels that neo-hipsters will enjoy out of a return to the “aesthetic of the quaint.” Maybe you’ll get a job as an accountant, in some weird turn of events you could have never predicted. Who knows??
Right now you are passionate about writing. Fuck yeah. Passion is good. You don’t have to feed a family or yourself right now, so don’t worry about a job right now. Get into writing. Do whatever the hell you want.
What more are you looking for at this point? Are you looking for a guarantee? A set of rules that, if you follow, you’ll “become a great writer?”
That doesn’t exist. I’m sorry. If you’re looking for certainty, there is none. You’re going to have to struggle just like everyone else.
The way to improve in writing is exactly the same way to improve in everything:
- Surround yourself with the greatest in the field (in your case, read incredible books).
- Practice. (in your case – WRITE.)
And that goes for tango dancing, programming, politics, weightlifting … you name it. It’s the same formula.
What you focus on and devote yourself to, you will get better at. It’s that simple.
And when you get older, you’re going to look back and see that English teacher in a different light. You’re going to remember her and remember how “stuck” she was in her own struggle, with her own ideas as to how the world works, and how she projected that onto you.
Or – more likely – you won’t even think about her at all.
Now that you’ve got your creative juices flowing, here are some basic rules from the ecrivans at Pixar that might help you frame up some ideas. Now get after it, Nerdcorites!