I come across a lot of great writing tips each week. As a writer I am constantly seeking to improve my craft and learn from others—to increase my technical skills and raise my work to a new level.
This week however, the best writing tip I received is not actually a writing tip at all. With the recent death of Robin Williams I have taken a profound look at the moments that have changed my life. I have realized that my eleven year-old self, sitting in rapture as I watched Dead Poets Society with a tattered notebook and a head full of stories would not be proud of the effort with which I have pursued my writing career.
Looking back on this now in my mid-30’s I can’t afford to dwell on wasted years, but I can take the lessons learned while my dreams were just budding in my soul and apply them to my writing now. Here’s a few of the most poignant lessons I learned from DPS—and how I promise to use them to improve my craft and move my career forward—a great lesson for writers at any stage:
“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” Henry David Thoreau
My Writers Tip #1: NEVER STOPWRITING.
I admit that I have not lived deliberately. I have let my circumstances control me and as such have been left with a seven year-old manuscript and a cast of characters which are bursting to live deep and suck the marrow out of their own lives.
Carve out the time if you have to create extra hours in the day to do it. Just sit down and write. It doesn’t matter if you bin 90% of the words you write because the other 10% will be a window into another world that wants its story told.
“Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”
My Writers Tip #2: BE UNIQUE.
Your heart is unique but don’t for one moment think that in a world of 7 Billion people there won’t be a whole lot of people that feel you are speaking right to their soul.
Don’t worry about what the latest trend is in whatever genre you write. Write what you love—if it stirs your own soul then it has a very important role to play in the lives of others. But it can’t do its job unless you put it out there. Think about Mr. Keating standing on his desk: “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” Approach your writing with reckless abandon and let your mind see the world in a new light.
I have struggled to find the passionate and dedicated voice I had earlier in life but I feel like I am finally pulling some of those hopeful threads of desire back to the surface. Don’t be like me. Keep writing and that passion will keep floating raw on the surface, instead of having to be rescued from an old mind.
…”Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
My Writer’s Tip #3: DON’T BE AFRAID TO CALL YOURSELF A WRITER!
For me, the quote above is where the rubber meets the road. We have a choice everyday—to be better writers, editors—to improve our grammar and ‘show not tell’. It is up to us to seize the day and make our journeys extraordinary, to take the initiative to join a writer’s group, critique a fellow author’s work, to read works you love until your eyes blur.
It’s taken me until the age of 33 to convince myself that this dream was doable. I want to look back on my life at the end and say with certainty that I met my calling. How about you? How will you make your life extraordinary?
Watch the clip below. Trust me—even if you’ve seen it a hundred times it will resonate with you—and maybe, just maybe you will hear the voice of Robin Williams (a beautiful soul in his own right and gone too soon) whispering in your ear—reminding you to pick up the torch and seize the day. Carpe Diem everyone.