Call Yourself a Writer

Read and Write with Purpose

“Just keep going and get to the end.”

— Tony D’Souza

As I write this, I have yet to be published. Yet, there is an inevitability to the process. And that’s something I’ve never been able to say before.

Before completing my MFA in Writing (Fiction) at Lindenwood University, I attempted writing, but never called myself a writer. That’s a difficult hurdle to overcome. It seems easy—calling oneself a writer—but those are words left to the new and experienced.

It was Tony D’Souza, one of my professors at Lindenwood, who said, “Just keep going and get to the end” over two years ago, and those words have been above my monitors ever since. They and he have given me the will and confidence to follow the writer’s life.

Confidence is attained through knowledge and practice. Read well. Write often. Read the classics. Read the new. Read literary. Read genre. Read close to your genre and read outside your genre. Analyze those texts. Analyze the author’s use of language. The author’s voice. The author’s style. Don’t just read for fun. Read like a writer. Then write.

Write what inspires. Write dreams. Write detail. Write images. Write about the koala-faced man in the mall. Write about the terracotta pot hunkered and crusted on that stoop. Then, throw none of it away.

Keep everything. Nothing is worthless, and you know that—or you will learn that. Write even when it feels stupid—or don’t, because you need to trust yourself when something isn’t working, listen to yourself, stop and ask yourself why it isn’t working and fix it or leave it for later.

Write with purpose. There’s a fixation on cranking out thousands of words or even a million words in a month. If that works, fine. However, know when it doesn’t and recognize when to back off, when to revise, when to edit—because those are two different things.

Read how others write, but don’t ape their methods. Look at their methods. Read other’s methods and make all those methods your own. There’s no one right answer when it comes to your writing and your writing process. There’s only your answer which is a combination of all you’ve learned.

It’s all fine, well, and good to say all these things, but this post doesn’t go into how I do these things. My following posts will do just that.

Author: Chuck Lang

Chuck Lang is a writer of science fiction and horror. Influenced by his years as a carpenter, four years serving in the US Navy, and his fifteen years teaching literature, he holds an MFA in Writing (Fiction) from Lindenwood University. After completing his first manuscript, the supernatural horror novel DEAD GODS, in 2019, he has begun work on its two sequels, DEAD GODS: INHERITANCE and DEAD GODS: RESOLUTION. He is currently developing two additional projects, an urban fantasy horror novel and a military science fiction novel. He lives and writes near the frequently flooded Red River in Fargo, ND with his wife and two redhead sons.

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