Come, Little Grasshopper, and sit at my feet. I’ll give you one of the most important secrets of the writing trade. Don’t be afraid, I don’t bite. Well, not often and not unless you’ve really screwed the pooch, you know what I mean? You know…
Anyway, in writing for a living, there are a few major struggles you’re going to encounter over the long run. First and foremost is the all-consuming fear that you’re going to run out of work and never see another paycheck again. Next is the realization that you’ve got too much work and you’ll never see daylight again. But somewhere between the two of those is the worry that you’re starting to sound monotonous. Blah blah blah keyword blah blah, ykwim?
High Quality Input = High Quality Output
I’m about to say something that you’re not going to like, so before I do, screw on your big girl panties and brace yourself. Here goes. You can’t just write forever and be lauded as a motherfucking genius. Because you aren’t. What comes out of you is directly influenced by what goes in, so if you’re not bothering to put anything INTO the data stream, you’re not going to get anything but garbage out once you run through your personal backlog of reading material, popular culture, current events and so forth.
You are not brilliant. There’s nothing new inside your special little head.
What makes a writer is how they connect the dots between data points, not the fucking nouns or verbs or vocabulary. I mean, that stuff is important. If you don’t have it, no one will hire or respect you and I’ll probably laugh at you a lot, but if you can’t connect dots, you might as well just go work at a cardboard box factory.
In order to connect those dots, you have to have those dots to connect in the first place. Which means that at least half your job is non-writing stuff like watching television, playing video games, reading books, dicking around on social media, interacting with fleshy humans and so forth. Data collection is so vital to your world, you can’t even imagine.
Ways to Make More Time for Input
We live in a world of data, which is pretty awesome if you’re a writer with not a lot of extra time to cram information into your own head. You have to make some time for new data input, you absolutely do, but there are more efficient ways to go about it if you’re in a time crunch. There are plenty of writers these days who don’t read a lot of books because they simply lack the time, but they’ve consumed every single article that their favorite social media feed has shared in the last two years. Reading is reading, don’t get pretentious about it.
Anyway, here are a few things to try in order to increase your data input volume:
Crack Open Some Audiobooks. A friend of mine swears by these. He’s listened to some that sound to me to be pretty damn cool, but I’ve barely cracked the cover on them. I can’t vouch for audiobooks one way or the other, but I’d say that if you got a lot from your college lectures, audiobooks will be a world full of learnin’ for you. You can listen and do stuff like email prospects or clean your house to make the most efficient use of time.
Thrash to New Music. Hey, you may not think of music as a form of writing, but as long as you’re listening to the kind with words, booyah! There are words here. Music to me is more like poetry, but poetry is a great tool for developing a voice that glides easily across the page. Spotify has several different features that suggest new music to users based on music they’ve already heard and I use them often. New music gives me new ways to connect words and, sometimes, even new metre to measure sentences by.
Call Your Mom. I’m not saying you’re not doing your best, but your mom wants to hear from you, and she’s probably been doing some interesting reading or television watching, eh? Depending on who your mom is, you might get the latest headlines from Fox News or the greatest hits from the Discovery Channel. It’s a gamble. But your mom wants you to call. You could call once in a while.
Binge Some Fucking Netflix. Whoever first said that television was an idiot box was clearly a hater of fun and destroyer of joy. There’s lots of really smart programming out there these days, both fiction and non. Right now I’m watching some shit about volcanoes and stuff. I’ve been streaming Netflix for weeks and weeks while I work, it drowns out the sound of construction in my neighborhood, skanks can’t be bothered to keep it down. Oh, and now I know things about lava.
Ok, turd mongers, that’s it for today. Go away and fill your brain with useful data and make your writing better. Look at different writing styles. Explore other genres. Try out new stuff!
Above all else, STAY INTERESTING!