What have I learned from writing, from life as a writer, and from hanging out in the wonderful community of other writers?
1. Persistence trumps talent every time.
2. If you’re waiting on the muse to show up before you start working, you’re wasting valuable time. If you’re not where you’re supposed to be (with pen or keyboard at hand ready to work), how do you expect the muse to find you?
3. There are no born writers…or painters or race car drivers or bankers. They all work at it.
4. Everyone is creative. The lucky ones recognize it and enjoy it. The unlucky or doomed believe whoever lied and told them they couldn’t create. Everyone is creative and can develop and enjoy what calls to them, whether it’s writing or cooking or gardening or juggling or…
5. There is a special place in a very bad place for those who tell little kids [or big kids] they can’t paint or write or cook or sing or dance or color trees purple. No one has the right to take that away from another person. No one.
6. If someone ever told you that you that you couldn’t do something but you liketo do it, don’t listen to them. Do it any way. Don’t worry that you won’t get rich or famous doing it…what’s that got to do with enjoying it?
7. When creating anything, the first draft should be fun. Quit thinking so much. Stand on the edge of the pool, hold your breath, and dive in. The real work starts when you come up for air – and that will be fun, too.
8. How do you know you’re doing it right? If you’re a little bit afraid.
Show up. Pay attention. Play. Be grateful. Be generous. Enjoy.
Cathy Pickens’ first of five mystery novels, Southern Fried, won St. Martin’s Press/Malice Domestic Award for Best Traditional Mystery. She has written a mystery walking tour, Charleston Mysteries (History Press), and numerous articles and case studies. At Queens University of Charlotte, she was named the Wireman Professor and won several teaching awards. She has served as president and on the boards of national mystery writers organizations and as president of the regional Forensic Medicine Board. Currently, she works with former inmates on starting their own businesses.