I just started writing a new novel a few weeks ago and I feel like a teenager again.
Yes, there is the euphoria and the excitement of magical new lands to discover, and the thrill of new horizons coming into view.
But when I say I feel like a teenager again, that’s not what I mean. Because, in addition to the euphoria, excitement, and thrill, I am also being clobbered by tidal waves of confusion, self-doubt, intense emotion, and fear, fear, fear.
Aspiring writers often ask me, “What the most important piece of writing wisdom you wish you knew when you were just starting out as a writer?” My answer is never what they expect. It’s not the tried-and-true “show, don’t tell” or “kill your darlings” advice we’ve all heard time and time again. It’s something much simpler. And in my opinion, something that would have saved me years of frustration, self-doubt, and self-judgment.
My most important piece of writing wisdom:
For writers, there are two proven harmful effects of engaging in too much social media. (And let me say first that I’m guilty of overindulgence myself—it’s easy to start out with the intention of quickly checking Facebook and Twitter and then get sucked into a black hole and come out dazed and woozy on the other side.) But if you can keep these two harmful things in mind before you even go in, your chances of coming out unscathed are much better.
I went down to San Jose last week to see Alexsandar Hemon read from his new work, The Book of My Lives. After the reading he answered questions from the audience on topics ranging from writing, to imagination and creativity. One of the questions brought up the subject of expertise. Specifically, how much is needed to be a successful writer.
All of my life people have described me as intense. My family, my friends, perfect strangers that I’ve met at parties. I’ve been known to get really excited about a topic—like REALLY excited—without noticing the person that I’m talking to is backing away from me and trying to get out of the room. Don’t get me wrong, my intuitive people skills are usually pretty good. But when my creative faculties are triggered, everything else flies out the window.