In What this Author Learned From, I share an experience, an encounter, or a piece of work that has influenced my writing today and how this could perhaps in some small way, help you on your journey as an author or writer.
Here are three things I’ve learned from my dad that have helped me on my journey as an author.
My dad had a saying. It’s sounds better in Spanish but the saying goes, “lazy people work twice as hard.” I hated that saying. I didn’t even know what it meant at the time. But what he was trying to tell me back then makes sense now. Focus on the job that you’re doing so that you do it right the first time and don’t have to go back and fix your mistakes.
How it Applies to Writing
Let me begin by saying that family should always come first. Aside from family, shut out the problems and drama of the world around you. Immerse yourself in the world you’ve created because ultimately you’ll have to write what you would want to read anyway. And what you want to read will turn out to be your best work as time goes on. Drop the weight of your burdens. Yes, you’ll have mistakes that you’ll have to go back and edit. That’s the nature of creating. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about full immersion during your creating time. Shut off social media. Distance yourself from the news a little. By that I don’t mean bury your head in the sand but it’s ok to shut off the news from time to time.
The single most prevalent question I get when I go to conventions or meet random people and the books come up in conversation is, “How do you find the time?” One word: discipline. My dad owned a restaurant in Puerto Rico that was on the side of the road leading to the beach. One of the things he would make me do every single morning was sweep the parking lot. Yes, the parking lot. The lot wasn’t as big as a supermarket lot, mind you. It had about 7 spots out front that I had to sweep. With a broom. Every. morning. Yes, I hated…no, despised doing this.
But it taught me to finish a job I start. As a restaurant owner, my dad also worked 6 days a week and on the 7th he stocked up for the rest of the week. Our treat on that 7th day was to go out for a movie and dinner…at a restaurant. He had to plan for the next week.
How it Applies to Writing
Commit to finishing a job that you start. But not just that. Plan it out first. Outlining is paramount. Lots of authors (and I’ve done this in the past) start a book out before they know where they’re going with it. There are things such as character development and resolution that we, as authors, are responsible for. I use the word “responsible” because of its weight. We are responsible for the worlds and characters we create and in developing an underlying theme for the work. And sometimes saying “yes” to your book means saying “no” to something else.
The funniest image of my dad I have is of him jogging through the mountains in one of those shiny aluminum sweat suits that looked like a cheap Silver Surfer costume. Every morning, he’d get up at 4am and jog up and down the side of the mountain he lived on. I would often ask myself why he would do this when he was on his feet all the time at the restaurant. What it came down to was that his body had become accustomed to him being on his feet. Had he not done this he would not have challenged his body to better health.
I count myself in the group of authors who are happy spending hours on end living in the worlds that we create. But we need to care for our bodies. Sitting too long puts us at a higher risk of obesity, cancer, diabetes and much more. My family and I are martial arts instructors but aside from that, I’ve committed to exercising at home and I would encourage you to do the same. When your body is healthy, your mind is healthy. Your characters will thank you for it. Why? Because you’ll be thinking a lot clearer.
My dad passed away from Alzheimer’s five years ago. And even if I didn’t get to see him as much as I would have liked because of distance, he left me with some great lessons.
And something to pass on to our brown-eyed girl.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is also a husband, father and a 4th degree Black Belt in American Karate. You can visit his website, Science Fiction for the Human Condition at Leonardoverse.com. His books are available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.