#1 Writing Rule: Be Teachable

We writers area equal parts ego and vulnerable.  The cliché is to develop a “tough skin” over the years and be able to take criticism.  But we all think we’re geniuses, and we are. Brilliant beasts who are magical at hiding our softest parts behind a shield of “I already know” and “You just don’t understand the work.”

Writer with Paper Head“Humble yourself, Oscar,” often goes through my mind.  One thing I’ve learned over the years of writing and revision and rejection and submission and rejection again and writing again and revision again is this:  Be teachable.

“The ultimate aim of the ego is not to see something, but to be something,” By Muhammad Iqbal – Pakistani Poet

I say that and I also offer writers advice which will sound like a schism (and it is), but we need to retain our ego.  We need to always remember we are undiscovered geniuses.  We are the next brilliant thing to hit the writing world.  We have the ability to transform this planet into something more habitable.  And ultimately that’s why we sit here everyday and write.  To end oppression.  To open up people’s minds.  To give readers a new way to look at life.  Our genius is geared toward benevolence.  Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves, and I suggest we continue to do so.

But at the same time we must be teachable.  We must be able to take advice from other writers.  It’s the difference between wrestling against your ego and mastering it.  When you are in control, you understand talent and skill must be executed with discipline.

And the only way for a writer to obtain discipline is by listening to others.

“We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret,”  By Jim Rohn.




(The above image was borrowed from Flickr)

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Oscar Hokeah is a regionalist Native American writer of literary fiction, interested in capturing intertribal and multicultural aspects within two tribally specific communities: Tahlequah and Lawton, Oklahoma. He was raised inside these tribal circles and continues to reside there today–half Native American (Kiowa/Cherokee) and half Hispanic. He earned an M.A. in English from the University of Oklahoma, and a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a recipient of the Truman Capote Scholarship Award and the Native Writer Award. He has short stories published in South Dakota Review, American Short Fiction, Yellow Medicine Review, Surreal South ’09, and Red Ink Magazine

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