It's almost always required for an English Literature major to love writing and reading. It's in our blood and soul to devour a novel at midnight even if we have to wake up early the next morning. We're wired to have to write on every surface imaginable: journal, notebook, computer, and walls.
Nobody ever said writing was the easiest profession though. We are literally making something, out of nothing, and putting it all into words for others to understand and dissect. Without writing, the world would be a dark and gloomy place.
Recently, my best friend Katryna and I went to see my all-time favorite author Colleen Hoover at a signing in Tempe, Arizona at Changing Hands Bookstore. She was brilliant, hilarious, and offered all of us aspiring writers some great advice. Here are the top 6 that every writer needs to hear:
1. Write because you have to get a story out.
As a writer, we all have stories swimming around in our brains. There are so many ideas, we don't have time to write even half of them. Hoover suggested to just write to get the story out. Don't write for an audience or a specific reason, just write it all out. Worry about the rest later.
2. Don't write to get famous.
Obviously, it would be cool to publish a book right away and immediately get popular. Unfortunately, that usually doesn't happen. Being a writer is tough, and gaining a huge following takes its time. Don't start writing to just get famous. Write because you have to. Because you need to. Because you might explode if you don't put pen to paper.
And if you write from the heart, the rest will follow.
3. Let the characters pull you around.
"I planned for Will to work at a grocery store. I was just as shocked as Layken when she walked into the school and saw him." Hoover said about writing her first book "Slammed." She says that she lets the characters move her around and steer the story. And many times, they surprise her.
4. Don't force yourself to write.
We have all been there. Those days where we spent three hours pounding our head against the keyboard because we can only get two words out. We know the end game with the story, but the rest? Not so much.
Hoover says if you don't feel like it, don't do it. Go for a few days or weeks without writing. Once that urge to write again comes back, it will come in full force. Don't worry if you don't have anything to say one day. The next you might have a whole ten chapters to say.
5. Don't try to write what is popular.
When the Hunger Games came out, a huge wave of dystopian books became popular and rose to the top of the list. The same happened with Adult coloring books and poetry. Right now, books based on diversity are being largely published and rising to the top of the charts.
It may be tempting to all of the sudden write what is popular now, for the sake of getting out there, but Hoover says that is not the answer.
"By the time you get what is popular published, it will be out and something else will be in."
So just stick with writing what you love.
6. Look at what's around you.
"I got the idea for Ugly love because I looked at a bridge and wondered what would happen if a car drove off it."
Sometimes inspiration can come from the weirdest places. It can be an old journal, something your friend said, or a place. Literally, anything is on the table. Just keep your eyes and ears open to the world around you and have a notebook to write it all down.
It was lovely to meet Colleen Hoover and pick her brain on writing. I remember discovering her books at work as I shelved books in the 'H' section. From reading "Slammed" to dying at "Maybe Someday," and loving "Without Merit," Hoover has some amazing works up her sleeve. I hope I can be successful like her someday.