I’ve had the following conversation countless times at bookstores, parties, even when I’m out walking the dog.
Would-be writer: “So you’re a writer?”
Wistful expression appears on would-be writer’s face. “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”
Me: “What’s stopping you?”
WBW: “Don’t have the time.”
Me: “If you write one page a day, you’ll have a book in a year.”
WBW, flashing a sheepish grin: “It might not be good.”
Me: (trying not to rant) “Doesn’t matter. It’s a start. Writing is a skill that gets better with practice.”
The conversation usually ends with the would-be-writer slinking away even though I have plenty more to say. The words are familiar because I repeat them to myself when I sit down to write.
1. Who do you think you are? Moses chiseling the Ten Commandments onto a humongous rock? If it’s not perfect, that’s okay. Remember the “delete” button?
2. You cannot edit a blank screen. Write something. Write anything. Every day. Somewhere in that giant slag heap of coal, you will find a diamond in the rough, ready to be polished.
3. Do not give into fear. Fear of criticism, fear of failure, fear that you’ll never get another brilliant idea for the rest of your natural life. Fear is paralyzing. It steals away your creative energy and most certainly causes what is euphemistically known as writers’ block. How does one defeat fear? Follow steps 1 and 2. Repeat as necessary.
Here’s what beloved young adult author, Judy Blume, has to say about writing. “I received nothing but rejections for two years. I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced that I would be. Each time I sent a book or story off to a publisher, I would sit down and start something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.”
So, here’s my advice if you really, truly want to write a book. Stop making excuses and just do it.
MEG CABOT – The Princess Diaries slipped through the hands of 17 publishers before being accepted for publication.
TONY HILLERMAN – the late, great author now famous for his Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, was initially told to “Get rid of all that Indian stuff.”
Only seven of EMILY DICKINSON'S poems were published during her lifetime. One rejection said, "Your poems are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauty and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities."