The following ten questions apply to all writers, but some may be more relevant to you than others.
- Are you challenging yourself continually to search for new ideas and write about them? Without search and curiosity, it is difficult to bring innovation and creativity to writing. If you are keen, ideas are everywhere to find. John Steinbeck said, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
- Are you thinking about what it takes to serve or inspire a change in the world through writing? It is essential to have a goal and a strategy in mind for why you write and how it serves the desired purpose. Martin Luther said, “If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” Anaïs Nin wrote, “The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say.”
- Are you finding ways to stand out among the humungous crowd of writers? And where are you looking? Skillful and successful writers always look for creative ways to stand out among other writers. E.L. Doctorow said, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”
- Are you thinking about influencing a thousand people through your writing? Also, how can this be possible? Capturing anything in words in the way that people can relate to requires an exceptional talent. If you can write in a way that influences, at least, a couple hundred people, it means you are doing something right. Find more ways to sharpen your skills to affect a thousand and more people positively.
- Are you reading some of the top writers and bloggers? Are you reading at least a page or two every day about topics unrelated to your work? Reading and learning every day is the key to productive and creative writing. New researches and findings surface quite frequently. You should keep yourself abreast of the new knowledge in your field and in related disciplines. Stephen King writes, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
- Is your desire for writing driven by some purpose such as effecting a change in the world, or is it a means to a financial end? The French-Algerian writer Albert Camus said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” In Why I Write, George Orwell enumerates four desires or motives for why we write: sheer egoism, aesthetic enthusiasm, historical impulse and political purpose. Orwell wrote, “They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living.” One can also add financial motive to the list. You should be aware of your motive.
- Is your desire to become an excellent writer keeping you awake at night? Are you losing sleep over it? Ambitious writers have big dreams. Realizing them requires much thinking, hard work, discipline and commitment to it. However, it does not mean that you should not sleep at all. It just means that your ambition to become a better writer concerns you more than anything else in the world.
- Are you carrying a notebook and a pen with you at all time? Most experienced writers keep a notebook and a pen to write their thoughts. They know that ideas, no matter how insignificant, are precious and disappear right away if you don’t note them. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.” You should fall in the habit of writing your ideas if you have not done so yet.
- Are you keeping yourself healthy in solitude? Writing can be a lonely career, so it is good if you are ok with being on your own for a while or find a way to have some peace and quiet during your family routine.
- Are you writing every day? Will you write even if no one cared? Most importantly, you should write every day. You should write even if no one cared. Libba Bray says, “Write like it matters and it will.” If you are not writing, none of the above matters.
I would love to know in the comments about what questions inspire you to write.