Being the writer lessons learned from Winter 2014, when we were in flux between many projects and I went a little nuts.
WRITE SOME SHORT STUFF
So, you're in-between assignments - or specs or stories or runs on a comic. Time for an awesome vacation, right? Except your brain doesn't work like that, so every moment spent relaxing seems like one wasted not writing. Don't charge forward on the first idea you have, no matter how good it may seem - you are being fooled by your own ambition into starting something before it's ready. Instead, stretch your muscles. Write some short stuff. Collaborate with new people. Break the routines. Shake that brain up.
THERE'S A FINE LINE BETWEEN GROUNDED AND BORING
When writing about (say) the mechanics of large-scale government bureaucracies and software engineering in a visual medium, don't forget to include, ya know, visuals. You can explain an exploit perfectly in 100 words - or you can show it with none. The latter is almost always preferable.
If, while writing your first outlines, you don't once raise your eyebrows and think to yourself "whoa, that changes everything," you have failed the first test of story. Not while reading it, mind you. While writing. If the process of creation doesn't bring the unexpected, you might be making an Ikea desk. You are the only audience before the actual audience gets exposed. Don't assume you're immune to your story's power just cause it came from you. In fact, if you can't surprise yourself, you ain't really gonna surprise anyone.
INSIST ON DECENCY
You will, as a writer, be occasionally given the opportunity to produce. When you take that chair, remember what it meant to be at the mercy of producers. Try not to let them down the way you were let down. Pay well and on time. Teach those above you how to join the communities they are trying to sell to, rather than enabling exploitation. You know: don't be a dick.
MUSIC IS MAGIC
Phonogram knows its shit - listen and learn. Don't sleep on keeping up with new music - either challenging yourself with new sounds or exploring those you'd missed in the past. The brain can be fed with podcasts, but the subconscious is fed almost exclusively through emotion. Best delivery device (especially when writing): music.
PITCH AND LISTEN AND PITCH AND LISTEN AND PITCH...
Even when working with a partner, it's important to verbalize your ideas to those outside the circle. That doesn't necessarily mean the other writers around you - sometimes it's just the smartest person you know. Or a producer. Or a cat. And don't seek notes. Seek, instead, a conversation (not from the cat, but you get the point). Seek questions from the other person. Seek answers from inside yourself. And be honest with yourself when you don't have them.
READ YOUR FRIENDS
This one's obvious, but I've had enough great experiences in reading the work of close friends this month as to make me reiterate. Your friends are awesome and you should read them.
DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT LISTS
End of year "best-of" lists, Black Lists, that weird list from Night Vale, none of 'em. Don't give them a second of your time. Only thing that matters is what's next.
Appropriately, while writing this, I got a notes email. So I guess I'm gonna go write. Be excellent to each other.