Other People’s Useful Advice for being a Successful Writer (While Also Being a Decent Human Being)

While I like to share what bits of advice I give my own brain from time to time, a lot of what I live by was handed out to me by others, over the years. I still read advice sites like Lifehacker, and various writing advice blogs, specifically to find new ideas and new ways of looking at problems, in hopes they’ll become solved problems. Here’s a collection of recent links to words of wisdom you may need to hear yourself:

Never Be Ashamed of Your Side Hustle by Chelsea Fagan at Financial Diet – In short, we all have to make money. The less support you have from others, or the less time/position you’ve got in your current job, the more likely you are to need a side gig in order to make ends meet. This does not make you less of a person! Though you sometimes need to hide details of your other gig, there’s no reason to be ashamed that you have one.

For example: I have a full-time day job with a institution that provides mental health services. I’m comfortable saying that because I rarely discuss (online) what city I live in, much less which branch of the government I work for, so knowing a little about what I do probably won’t lead you to my patients. But I’m pleased to have this job, which is difficult at times but serves the community in a meaningful way, and also covers my rent. Because of this job, I’m able to focus on the freelance editing work that finds me, rather than spending non-earning time on finding enough clients. Plus, as I get promotions and make more money, and my living situation changes this fall, I’ll eventually be able to work less as a freelancer and more as a writer. Once that happens, I’ll be making most of my income from my day job, and it will basically be what makes it possible for me to be a writer, rather than someone who needs a spouse, parents, roommates, or a trust fund in order to survive while I pursue my dreams.

At SF Signal, Josh Vogt talks about “Playing Well with Other Worlds” – In short, when you’re hired/allowed to write tie in novels, shared world novels, games, or anything else where you’re writing your own story in a universe created by someone else, you need to remember that it does not belong to you. You absolutely must leave your ego at the door and work collaboratively with your editor, or you a) are an idiot, and b) won’t work for them/in this town again.

Why Fitspiration is Killing Your Motivation” by Coach Lawrence at Shredded by Science – Okay, maybe you don’t need to read the whole thing, which does go in depth about the “fitness lifestyle” vs “fitness competition”, but if you look at it as an analogy for writing, then it’s both relevant and valuable. (His science and psychology is on point.) Lawrence says:

Intrinsic motivation is defined by Professor Edward L. Deci as “initiating an activity for its own sake because it is interesting and satisfying in itself, as opposed to doing an activity to obtain an external goal (extrinsic motivation).”

One of the main models describing intrinsic motivation is called Self-Determination Theory, which describes three innate, universal needs that all humans are intrinsically motivated to fulfil:

Competence – humans are driven to control things, and experience “mastery”.
Relatedness – humans are driven to interact with, care for and be connected to other humans.
Autonomy – the ability for a human to make their own decisions.
Intrinsic motivation is awesome – it’s self-sustaining, incredibly powerful and usually very long-lasting. However, it generally takes a long time to develop, and as a result some extrinsic motivation is important when trying to alter habits and behaviours – especially at the beginning.

and goes on to show that #fitspiration is a combination of envy and punishment. All right people, now do we see the comparisons between punishing ourselves to attain someone else’s body, and punishing ourselves to attain someone else’s body of work? DROP AND GIVE ME FIFTY, MAGGOTS!

Ahem. Sorry about that.

Over at NPR, Anya Kamenetz discusses the problem of naming in Nonacademic Skills Are Key To Success. But What Should We Call Them? In short – there are a whole range of skills which are necessary for success. For us, this means success as writers as well as human beings. She lists some of the broad categories of skills which you should be cultivating in addition to “maths” and “how to fluff your word count”.

In the comments, please share any articles you would recommend!

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