Says the Editor: Just Start Writing

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I can’t make this stuff up, even if I tried. And since I’m a writer as well as an editor, I do try.

I actually see it more often than you’d think. People who… well, you know what? I can’t tell you what their motivation is most of the time. Sometimes, they’ll tell you. “I want to get in on the riches of being an author,” or “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” or “People tell me I should write a book.”

The query isn’t actually, “I want to write a book” — that’s not really something you can ask someone.

Nope. It’s “How do I start?”

And it may seem flip to respond, “Just start writing,” but that’s my go-to answer. And, of course, that comes off as being flip or rude or not helpful. Because I think a lot of these people are looking for magic formulas and rubrics and step-by-step instructions. And maybe down the road, with experience, those magic formulas will appear, but not at the beginning. Because at the beginning, you need to try a lot of things, make a lot of mistakes, and then discover what truly works for you, what your process is.

But before that, you also have to figure out what exactly you don’t know. And then you have to go learn it, incorporate it into your draft, ingrain it in your writing self.

So, yeah. Just start writing.

Make mistakes. Puke words on a page. Read a lot — but don’t just read. Study what you read. Compare it to what you’ve written. Tweak what you’ve written. Go read something else. Study. Compare. Tweak.

Unfortunately — or maybe it is fortunate — there are no magic wands when it comes to writing a book. It’s a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. It’s frustration, boredom, elation, trepidation, inspiration at 2AM or just at that point when the shower hits the perfect temperature and you’re too excited by the revelation to enjoy it properly.

And of course, “Just start writing” also means “Get off social media and quit talking. Shut up and get busy already.”

Because, yeah, that’s gotta happen, too.

Just start writing.

If nothing else, writing is a journey of self-discovery. So get busy. Discover things about yourself you never knew possible. Discover your characters, your setting, your story in ways you hadn’t been able to imagine them. Discover if this is really something you want to see through to completion — and be sure to discover the why behind that, too.

Go on. I dare you.

Just start writing.

And for those of you who ARE writing, I’d like to remind you that I’m offering a special for the first four authors who contact me with a manuscript they put aside for NaNo 2017 and now need help with. I made this offer a few days ago and this post was scheduled, so I have no idea how many remain. If you need help, don’t delay. Get in touch with me NOW.

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1 Comment

  1. Gina

    November 24, 2017 6:00 am

    There is a profound difference between writers and other people. Writers write. Other people only think about wanting to write. To jump the divide, you have to just start writing.

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