Tips For Writers By Mary Jaksch Do you wonder how to be a writer? To be a writer is more than learning how to string words together effectively. It’s about using the three vital keys to success. The good news is that these keys are free. Actually, they are already within you – all you need to do is to activate them. I’ll introduce you to the three keys of success in a moment, but first, let me ask you a question. Are you a Giver or a Taker? If you divide people into two camps, Givers and Takers, writers are part of the Givers [tweet this]. Don’t you agree? But what about when you’re exhausted? What about when you come home from work with nothing left to give? As writers, we need to receive in order to keep on giving. Cultivating the following three vital keys will allow you to receive nourishment on your writer’s journey. These keys will revitalize your creative spirit, raise your confidence, boost your creativity, and lift your motivation. 1. CURIOSITY: Why asking questions develops writing skills. Remember when you were a kid. You were curious about everything, right? I’m sure you had lots of questions, maybe like these ones: “Daddy, why don’t the stars fall out of the sky?”, “Mummy, where do babies come from?” What about now – are you still as curious? As writers, we need to rekindle that childlike curiosity because the mindset of curiosity is crucial for success. Here’s what Jo Marchant, the author of Decoding the Heavens said about writing: It’s crucial to have the right attitude. You need a burning curiosity – about how the world works, what people are doing, why they are doing it and why it matters. Think hard about what people tell you and make sure you understand it on the deepest possible level. If you don’t, keep asking questions until you do. Tip: Sit in a cafe or bar and observe people. Turn off your phone or other distractions. As you look at the faces around you, imagine what they might be feeling or thinking. What might their lives be like? What have they experienced in the past? Let your imagination run free. 2. OPENNESS: How to kickstart your creativity. Ideas are good. Yet ideas, opinions, and concepts imprison our creative mind. When we know exactly what we’re going to write, we don’t leave room for the serendipity of creativity. Openness means letting go of pre-formed ideas. In particular, it’s important to let go of ideas and judgements we hold about ourselves and our capability. If you listen to the internal chatter of your brain, you may notice a lot of thoughts with a negative slant – especially when you think about your talent as a writer. Negative thoughts hold you back from achieving your potential and releasing the power of your creative mind. Having an open mind means becoming aware of judgements and letting them go. Tip: When you notice negative thoughts like ‘You’ll never be a real writer’, or ‘Nobody will want to read this’, and so on, imagine a green gremlin sitting on your left shoulder, hissing the words into your ear. Now gently flick off the gremlin, like brushing off a piece of lint, and say to it firmly but kindly, “No!” 3. Courage: How to overcome write-or-flight syndrome. We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. —Ernest Hemingway Have you ever experienced the write-or-flight syndrome? It’s the moment of fear that sets in when you sit in front of a blank page. That fear can be so strong that you want to flee from your desk. In the grip of this syndrome, even cleaning the bathroom or answering emails seems a more pleasurable option than staring at that blank page! The kind of doubts that tend to go through my mind when I’m facing an empty page are: ‘Do I have anything to say?’, ‘Is my writing good enough?’, ‘Can I do it?’. Does this seem familiar? We need courage to put words on an empty page. We need the courage to write badly, to fumble and stumble and grasp for words. Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. ~Anne Lamott We need courage to trust in the process of writing. To trust that something will emerge that is worth sharing with the world. Tip: If fear keeps you stuck, imagine you’re talking to your best friend. Record a couple of paragraphs on your phone or laptop. Then transcribe what you’ve recorded – and write on. Walking the writer’s path You fail only if you stop writing. ~ Ray Bradbury Writing is a life-long journey. To keep going, we need to overcome obstacles, fight the dragons of doubt and fear, find nourishment along the way, and taste the joy of being creative. Talent is not some finite gift we were given at birth; it develops through the act of writing. [tweet this]. If you cultivate the three vital keys to success – curiosity, openness, and courage – your talent will shine and grow. What is your experience of walking the writer’s path? Please share in the comments.