People have this idea that they can write a book because they can write a sentence. Not to downplay that achievement at all, but writing a book that a total stranger will want to read is a lot more than the accumulation of sentences. You have to make a total stranger care enough about what is on the page to finish the book and THEN, if you’re good and maybe somewhat lucky, they will tell another person about it, who in turn may decide to read it too. This is no small feat my friend. These days there are so many things trying to get the attention of consumers that knowing how to spell or construct a beautiful sentence is not enough.
I don’t understand the pop culture mystique around being an a writer. In TV show or movies, the writer’s life is portrayed with a kind of wistful bliss. The aspiring writer gazes dreamily past their blank page and is lost in another world. This happens a lot but it doesn’t get any writing done. In Terry Brook’s book on writing, he talks about how the writer has to live in two worlds at the same time. I totally get that.
What is this desire to capture thoughts on paper? Thoughts are so fleeting. Writing it down makes it concrete. You can hold in your hand, look at it with your eyes and really contemplate it. I find it hard to focus on one thing for more than a few minutes. Having a focal point that I can actually look at helps to keep my thoughts from wondering too far from their original objective.
There are times when writing is easy, really easy. More often than not, writing is damn hard.
Where to start.
Write. Get your 10,000 hours in as soon as possible. Write when you don’t feel like it. Write even if the story totally sucks. Just keep going. Practice really does make perfect.
Workshop. Once you’ve got something show, give to other people (preferably writers) and get their feedback. If can be intimidating but it is the fastest way to improve. All writers have blind spots to their work and having others read your work will expose those so you can fix them. Eventually you will see them on your own and you will be on your way to being a better writer.
Habits. If you write every day or the same day every week or month, it doesn’t matter in the sense that your brain loves pattern. If you create a pattern it will prompt you do that thing even when you are in the middle of something completely different. Habit primes your brain to get ready for the next activity. If you are already primed, the creativity has a lot easier time of flowing. So create a habit, whatever days and times work for you just make sure you push through the initial few weeks to form that habit.
Take classes. I started at my community college taking the same creative writing class with the same teacher several times. There are tons of online classes. I recommend SavvyAuthors.com. If you can’t take a class then read books about the craft of writing.
Read good books. When I read a high-quality author I feel like my writing improves. Our brains absorb information all the time so be sure to fill it with good writing. (Reading bad writing is good for you too, but in a different way.)
Research. Again, because your brain is a sponge, read non-fiction books. Even if you don’t catch all of it, that information is now floating around in that gray matter in your skull and will come out on the page.
If you’re still committed to the act of being a writer I find that reading books about writing from other authors is really encouraging. My favorites are by Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, and Stephen King.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have about writing so please contact me if you think of anything. Otherwise I say- happy writing!