100 Lessons I Learned Writing 321 Stories

  1. Whether or not I believe I can do it, I have to do it
  2. Carry a notebook with you everywhere
  3. Readers read your stories and writers steal your stories
  4. No one cares about your dreams
  5. Write the pain and memories you can not speak
  6. Stamp yourself as an expert by being knowledgeable and open
  7. It takes more time to pull yourself back to a task than to say no to being interrupted
  8. Ask for help if you need input
  9. If you can’t meet a deadline, say so sooner rather than later
  10. Have red lines you will not allow others to cross
  11. Make a point to invest in yourself and craft
  12. Learn how to practice as a writer
  13. Join a critique or mastermind group aimed at actually helping you become a better writer
  14. Don’t allow unhealthy or pessimistic writers into your creative space
  15. Not every story is meant for publication
  16. Learn when to say yes to an experience and when to say no
  17. Keep people around you who support your writing
  18. Treat yourself often
  19. Creativity takes a toll physically, emotionally, and spiritually
  20. Give your body and brain the rest it needs to keep creating
  21. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish
  22. Talented and good writing is a muscle
  23. Money never equates to time
  24. Playtest ideas to get a handle on which ones are worth the time
  25. Explore subjects that interest you outside of what you’re normally into
  26. Outlines cut the writing time in half
  27. Keep a story journal of all the stories you want to write in your career
  28. Done doesn’t have to be perfect
  29. Don’t put all your writing or publishing eggs in one basket
  30. Marketing is a part of writing
  31. Build a loyal readership and audience that’ll support you throughout your career
  32. Story is everywhere
  33. Idea generation is an exercise that needs to be done weekly to keep the muscle active
  34. Fear of rejection stops more talented writers than rejection
  35. We are all beginners at something
  36. There is no one right way to tell a story
  37. Each story has its own telling and teller
  38. Being a professional doesn’t always mean someone is good, talented, or even knows what they are doing
  39. Mentorships are invaluable experiences that help both the mentee and mentor
  40. Not every writer can be a freelancer
  41. Not every writer or story is meant to be published
  42. Some published and lauded stories are crap
  43. To take a critique, you must take yourself and the critiquer out of the statement and only focus on what is best for the story
  44. Supportive partners make the work easier
  45. Discipline is a neverending chess game, not a skill that is acquired and left on a shelf
  46. Innovative writers steal with a twist and create something new from something old
  47. More writers want to be told they’re good and belong to a community than they actually want to write or become better writers
  48. Trust your gut about a client and a project. If something feels off, it’s because it is
  49. You only get out of writing what you put into it
  50. Writing a lot doesn’t make you a better writer
  51. Most writers never reflect on their past stories or accomplishments, exploit this to get ahead
  52. Conventions — online or in-person — are necessary places for writers to network, grow their career, and interact within their community
  53. Dictating is not writing, but it takes a lot of the work out of it and is faster
  54. Newsletters are a bridge to readers
  55. A writer’s website is a necessary space a writer needs to own for branding, jobs, and personalization
  56. Landing a monthly column is a great way to keep a regular flow of cash and establishing yourself as an expert or name in your community
  57. Write stories with a before and after effect, so the reader has an idea of what things were like before the events of the story and what they could be like after
  58. Passion is not as important as discipline and planning
  59. Career writers do more than write
  60. Make each sentence do more than one thing
  61. Use a range of sentence lengths and structures
  62. Consume more stories than you write
  63. Incorporating writing into your everyday life is crucial to success
  64. Readers bring their unchecked and unpacked bias to your stories
  65. Mediate on your writing and career to see where you must go next in your craft and stories
  66. Writers’ block affects us all eventually. Have a game plan to deal with it
  67. No matter how much you make, write, publish, or whatever, you’re still a human who will die and be forgotten. Stay humble
  68. Be your #1 fan at all times even when you suck
  69. Learn outside of the traditional structures you were taught
  70. The improvers principle of “Yes, and…” can lead to story generation and help you out of a tight spot in a story
  71. Find out your weaknesses and practice improving them
  72. You learn through helping others learn
  73. Find your writing community
  74. Niches are how your readers find you and how you find your readers
  75. Accept the long and often unsuccessful act of writing
  76. Experiment with form and ideas to find new stories and ways of writing them
  77. Study psychology, linguistics, history, and philosophy so that you have a firm understanding of the human condition and how to express ideas
  78. Give away stories for free
  79. Learn your cycle of creativity and work within it
  80. Spend more time editing and researching than you do writing
  81. Creative a moveable, imaginary room of your own so you can write anywhere
  82. Everything is connected. Learn the connections and special ways that you see them to deliver unique and original stories
  83. Creative play is a necessary act
  84. Ask what your intentions are behind the story, what you’re trying to say, and how you want to say it before you write
  85. Muses are what you make them
  86. Read your stories out loud
  87. Other writers aren’t your competition, but some will try to be
  88. You deserve to be paid for your work
  89. The only cure for rejection is to keep submitting, writing, and publishing
  90. Writing doesn’t always feel fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad or you should stop. Push through the unfun parts
  91. Learn the rules of grammar and syntax so you can master the language you’re writing in
  92. Comparing yourself to other writers is a great way to see where you are and where you want to go but do so with caution and a secure self
  93. Not all forms of editing are the same
  94. Not all forms of publishing are the same
  95. There’s someone out there with less skill doing what you want to
  96. Copy work helps you become a better writer
  97. Plot doesn’t exist and it’s essential to understanding where your story needs to go
  98. Show don’t tell simply means don’t overexplain and allow your story to unfold naturally without you shoehorning in information
  99. Simply writing doesn’t make you a writer
  100. Get to know the editors and top writers in your niche or writing genre to help you plan your publishing and find new opportunities

Aigner Loren Wilson is a queer Black SFWA, HWA, and Codex writer. Her work has appeared in Tordotcom, Fiyah, Vice, and she is a Hugo Award finalist for her editing. Along with her writing roles, she is also the guest editor for Fireside Fiction and Apparition Literary summer and winter issues. Subscribe for access to masterclass courses in writing, editing, and making a living as a creative.

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