First off, I don’t really believe in the notion of the “aspiring writer.”

However, according to various sources, some 200 million Americans want to write a book at any given time.

Considering that most of those folks will never actually put pen to paper, I guess you could consider those people to be aspiring authors.

But, really, either you’re an author, or you’re not. Either you write, or you don’t. About the only way you can aspire to write is if you’re somehow deprived the basic human right to a pen & paper or a computer keyboard.

So let’s consider not what the aspiring writer should know about writing, but what the neophyte writer should know about writing.

The first thing you should know is that, if you made it through school or are in school right now, you probably have the basics to get started. If you want to write, then stop thinking so much and get to writing.

To help you get off the snide and start moving toward your goals, here are …

18 Things You Should Know About Writing

  • Either write or don’t. “Aspiring” to write amounts to little more than daydreaming and won’t help you get anything done.
  • Realize that, no matter where you start or where you are right now, you can always improve your writing.
  • Writing is hard work, but it should not be soul-crushing.
  • Writing should be soul-crushing some of the time, though. If you never learn to dig deep into the dark realm of your fears, your writing will never be as raw and authentic as it could be.
  • Find authors whose writing you admire and then emulate the aspects of their process that resonate with you.
  • You will face criticism and feel terrible about your writing at some point.
  • It’s hard to make money with your writing.
  • Don’t write in genres that don’t interest you.
  • Writer’s block is not inevitable if you devise a writing plan and stick to it.
  • Writing every day is one of the best ways to get better at writing and keep writing for the long haul.
  • Don’t worry, though, if you can’t write some days. Writing probably isn’t your job, and it’s sure not as important as your family.
  • Read a lot … of everything.
  • But don’t be afraid to stop reading anything you don’t like. Life is too short to waste on boring or crappy prose, no matter how good the “experts” say something is.
  • Find your voice and use it. You are you and can’t write like someone else with any authenticity.
  • Hold your writing time as a sacred commitment. Schedule it along with everything else in your life, and don’t break those appointments with yourself except in the case of dire emergency.
  • Write like your life depends on it.
  • You have more stories to tell than you could possibly write in a hundred lifetimes. Your job between now and the day you die is to squeeze out as many of them as you can.
  • Your writing — like your children — is your gift to the world, your legacy, and the closest you will ever come to immortality.


Stop Aspiring and Start Writing

It was British philosopher and author Alan Watts who gave probably the best, most concise advice for “aspiring” writers:

Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.

If you want to write, now is the time to do it.

Start where you are and get better over time.

Never stop learning.

But, whatever you do … don’t waste another second “aspiring” to write.