#1 Every Writer Must Have a Clear View! In other words every writer should know their worldview and stick with it. No one likes a writer who straddles the fence and is noncommittal. Even if we disagree with an author’s premise, we can at least respect their writing if they remain consistent with that premise. We may enjoy following someone on their journey to discovering their worldview, but eventually…and sooner than later…we really want them to make up their minds.
#2 Every Writer Must Have a Well! In other words every writer must have more words than they will ever use in print stored in their repertoire. This might seem like a “Dah” statement, but I’ve met individuals who say they want to write, but when asked what they read their answers are limited and one dimensional.
The best of the best writers; the ones we want to emulate, are ravenous readers. If they aren’t writing, they are reading…everything and they don’t just read within their genre. For the Christian writer, their number one book resource needs to be the Bible which helps us keep the main thing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the main thing.
#3 Every Writer Must Have a Target! In other words every writer should have a specific individual they are writing to. I’m not necessarily saying you should write to your Auntie Em, but if she fits the target audience you want to write to then she’s a good place to start. An objective of writing to the masses just doesn’t work. You cannot appeal to everyone, unless you are God and writing the Holy Scriptures.You’re not, so don’t go there.
Christian writers do well to remember they are always writing to an audience of One, God, as well as to their target audience. (link)
#4 Every Writer Must Have Designated Drivers! In other words every writer, novice and seasoned, needs at least one someone who will be the voice of reason when they are intoxicated with their own words. This was a hard must have for me to accept. I am a “Do it myself” kind of gal and wrote that way for a long time. It showed. When I took the plunge to write a novel series and spiritual growth series I quickly learned a one woman show just wasn’t going to cut it.
There are still individual people I need to find, with God’s leading, to guide and coach me on this road called publication. But I have been blessed with those willing to edit and critique my work. They’ve been priceless in this process. I’ve also relied heavily on the numerous contacts I’ve made at conferences and through the World Wide Web. I am amazed how freely others are willing to share their knowledge and expertise and even their mistakes. I am no longer an army of one!
#5 Every Writer Must Have Office Hours! In other words every writer should have a daily allotted time for writing. One of the biggest differences between a hobby writer and a professional writer is the hours they keep. Back in the day when I was doing it myself I was also doing it only when I was inspired. That’s not necessarily bad, it’s just not very professional and certainly not what it takes to finish and publish a book.
This was also a tough lesson for me to learn because I wasn’t used to taming my muse. I let the muse control me. Not a good idea. Of course we all have writer’s block, but the professional writer/author sits down at her designated time and writes. It may be a piece of junk for a few lines or even pages, but it doesn’t take long for her muse to catch up with her office hours and the words do become a work of art.
Solomon so eloquently stated there is a time for everything and that includes writing.
#6 Every Writer Must Have a Location! In other words every writer should have a place, a spot where they write. They may and often do have several spots. J. K. Rowling’s story of writing in the laundry mat while her little one slept in a stroller is one example of having a place to write. Was it ideal? Well, it wasn’t a seven foot cherry mahogany desk, but it obviously did the job. I’ve read about authors who write best on planes (it is quiet and away from phones) or on the bedroom floor with the door closed.
Many authors do have a designated office either in their home or in their business. On the cover of his well-known book, On Writing, Stephen King is pictured writing in his office with pooch under foot. King states when it is time for him to write, he goes to his office, shuts the door and writes. I don’t have an office, but I do have a desk that sits next to our L-shaped windows. Sometimes I move to the couch or to the family room, but I find I get a lot more words down when I am sitting at this specific location. The key is to find that magic location and determine to be there every day.
#7 Every Writer Must Have a Vessel! In other words every writer needs a pen and paper or computer, or iPad or voice recorder…some way to record the words gathered in our brain, heart and soul. This also seems like a “Dah” must have, but I don’t want to skim over the obvious. Paper and pen are not as obsolete as you think. I still use them especially when I need to brainstorm. I have notebooks full of one-liners, potential projects and story lines, character sketches and outlines for blog posts like this one.
When I use my laptop for brainstorming I worry too much about spelling and grammar and fragmented sentences. My wonderful MS Word program won’t let me stop worrying about these issues that can wait until I get the story out of my head.
When I have to figure out how to get my heroin out of the jam she is in and nothing has worked so far, I pull out my favorite pen and just write. I also keep pen and paper in my purse, on my nightstand and on the coffee table. Great plot twists and solutions have come to the front of my brain in the dark of night and at the Kroger check out line. If I don’t write them down immediately, the perfect words are gone and I’m the loser.
But, in this marvelous age of iClouds and flash drives some authors may not even own a pen. Each of us has to figure out what works best for us to deliver our very best writing.
So there you have them in a nutshell. Seven must haves for every writer. We will un-crack these shells in the weeks to come. I would love to hear your insights to these or maybe you have additional must haves you would like to share.