I wanted to try and do something a little different with the blog this week. Why? Good to stretch the muscles. I’m not sure of what, exactly, but change keeps you flexible. So this week, it’s about writing. I’ve collected a few comments, suggestions, and questions and I’ll start here:
What is a writer? A writer is, simply, one who writes. Take that a step further. A writer is a person of action, of doing. If you’re not writing, then you’re not a writer. It has nothing to do with being published or how good your stuff is. All of that is left to circumstance and chance and a little bit of talent. If you have a calling to write and you are actively writing, then you’re a writer. End of story.
What if you know you’re a writer, but you just can’t seem to write?
And by stop it, I mean stop not writing, stop making excuses and write something!! It’s that easy. You know how much you need to write a day to qualify as a writer? One word. You need to write a word a day.
The day I moved from being a sometime writer to a novelist happened when my friend Jason took me to task for not writing. “I can’t, Jason,” I said. “I’ve got a baby now. I’m married. There isn’t time for writing.” He didn’t buy it.
“You could probably manage a sentence a day, couldn’t you? I mean, that wouldn’t be too hard would it?”
“I could do a sentence,” I said, thinking, well, duh. A sentence is nothing.
“How about a paragraph?” Jason asked, and I knew I was in trouble. “I mean, I know you and you could probably get a paragraph in a day, huh?”
I thought about it. I could probably swing that. In between taking care of my son and husband and the house and my neuroses, could I write a paragraph a day. I could. I did. In fact, I wrote a page a day for a year. And that’s how I wrote my first book. One blasted sentence at a time.
We come up with all sorts of reasons not to write. Not enough time, no inspiration, no energy, things to do, working too hard on work and love and life and kids.
Steven Pressfield (author of “The War of Art”. Check it out. It’s great) calls all these excuses that we use (procrastination, bad grammar, gout) Resistance. It’s the universe’s way of stepping between the act of being creative. Because remember, writing or art or anything is an action and if something is in action, there will be pressures and forces around it. Something about aerodynamics. Anyway, Pressfield says: “Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There was never a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work.”
If you want to write, then regardless of your grammar or style or topics, you are a writer. You. Are. A. Writer. Now, sit down and do your work. But you only have to sit down for a minute or two.
Now stop complaining, and do it. Every day. Every single day. Write a word. Write a sentence. Connect them. This is how you write books. This is how you transform yourself, one letter at a time.
My challenge to you: If there’s something you want to work on, start with one sentence. Just one. And the next day, write the next sentence. Every day, until you’re in the swing of it, write one sentence. Then when you’re ready, do a paragraph a day. Keep your goal manageable. Don’t say “I’ll write one hour a day.” That’s too big. Start small. A universe, after all, is made up of billions of stars. Each star, though, is a point of light.
I could go on with the metaphor. But you get what I’m saying.
Next up: I’ll talk about publishing and agents etc. Unless you want to hear about something else. And, please, let me know if this is helpful or not.