December 13

10 Life Lessons I Learned from Becoming a Writer

I’ve been trying to become a writer since I was in 1st grade. After 35 years, you’d think I’d have it down. But as with any career, writers learn new things every day. (Just the other day, I learned the word “cenotaph!” I’ve yet to work it into a conversation, though.)

Anyway, some lessons about writing are small: noun-verb agreement, proper pronoun usage, remembering the difference between “effect” and “affect.” (Never can get that one right, but who cares?)

But some lessons are big ones, better learned earlier than later. And of these lessons, some of them are about more than just writing; they’re about life. Here are 10 that direct not only what I put on the page, but also what comes out of my mouth on a daily basis, what I do with my time, how I set my priorities.

  1. Sticks and stones break bones; words break hearts.
  2. Don’t write angry.
  3. The Creator made them, but he gave the characters minds of their own.
  4. Always check your sources!
  5. A great work is never completed; it is only abandoned.
  6. If you need to achieve something, don’t be paralyzed by the notion that it needs to be perfect in the first pass: Do something now! Revise it later.
  7. The story is dull without a little conflict.
  8. Always remember your audience.
  9. Correcting a grammar mistake in a professional or widely distributed message is a courtesy; correcting a grammar mistake in a friend’s conversation is just bitchy.
  10. Truly important issues should not be reduced to epigrams and sound bites.


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Posted December 13, 2013 by jpmahoney49 in category Academic Intellectual Erudition