I understand this envy-tinged awe because I used to be this way. As a child I wrote with abandon, before bedtime, when I came home from school, during math class, ideas came to me like raindrops in a storm- but as I got older I grew increasingly nervous about my abilities. I began reading books on 'how to write' and taking writing workshops, and attending book readings to ask the author for advice. I spent a good solid five years looking up advice on how to write, and now, I realize that those were five years wasted- because the only true advice that counts for anything when it comes to how to write is to:
It sounds so obvious- but the problem is that for someone who wants to write but doesn't- the biggest challenge is sitting down and getting started. You think, I can't just write? Whenever I sit down to write what I write looks like gibberish a two year old penned! And then click on yet another writing blog, or pick up another book and read about. . . writing.
The truth is, you can't read about painting and sketch like Van Gogh, you can't read about basketball and dunk like Kobe, you must do it again and again. You must practice. You think what you've written is jibberish? Write it down anyways. The idea of a 80,000 word novel making you want to hide under your bed? Write a chapter. A page. A sentence. Will your initial foray into writing be bad? Maybe. Probably. But I doubt Lebron got each ball in the hoop when he first began, or that Picasso's first drawing was worthy of a million dollar purchase-price- it takes time. According to Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to achieve genius level in your particular field- the only way to get those hours- is to put it the blood, sweat, and tears, and just write.
That's the part I failed to realize. I thought writing was sexy and elusive- that writers sat down at their desks, took a sip of red wine sighed and began penning away the next Booker Prize winner- but writing is four parts drudgery and two parts creative hypnotic bliss. Writing is hard- some days its boring- some days the words don't fit right, but you have to keep on going.
What I'm sharing may seem obvious, but it is advice I wish I had encountered before I spent my money, and worse still five years of my life reading up on how to be a writer. There is benefit in reading writing blogs and writing books and taking writing courses, but the actual writing- that's up to you to do. Write and rewrite and then write again- and you will succeed with your goal. There is simply no other way.
What advice helped you sit down at your desk and begin the process of writing? If you haven't done so yet, what are you waiting for?
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