The Writer's Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit | Simon Van Booy | Skillshare

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The Writer's Toolkit: 6 Steps to a Successful Writing Habit

teacher avatar Simon Van Booy, Author and Editor

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The 6 Steps for Writing Success


    • 3.

      Step 1: Make Your Own Space


    • 4.

      Step 2: Find Your Medium


    • 5.

      Step 3: Read Inspiring Works


    • 6.

      Step 4: Set Your Conditions


    • 7.

      Step 5: Stick to a Routine


    • 8.

      Step 6: Sketch to Stay Inspired


    • 9.

      Wrapping Up


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About This Class

Do you dream of being a writer but are struggling with how to start? These 6 essential steps will give you the foundation you need to produce great writing.

In this 40-minute class, acclaimed novelist Simon Van Booy walks writers of all types through a simple process that makes writing approachable and fun. You will learn how to:

  • optimize your space for your writing style
  • create a daily writing routine
  • gather and act on inspiration

Perfect for authors, aspiring writers, and enthusiasts looking for a creative outlet, these tools are meant to be revisited often to build a long-term writing process you can rely on for years to come.

Meet Your Teacher

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Simon Van Booy

Author and Editor


Simon Van Booy is the award-winning and best-selling author of 12 books of fiction, and three anthologies of philosophy. He has written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, NPR, and the BBC. His books have been optioned for film and translated into many languages. He lives in New York where he is also a book editor and a volunteer EMT. 


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1. Introduction: My name is Simon Van Booy, and I am a writer. I write novels, screenplays, children's books, articles for magazines and newspapers. But mostly I concentrate on fiction, and also teaching the art of fiction to people who really have the urge to write. I'm here to take it to the next level for you. So, we're going to look at why you want to do it. We're going to go over six ways where you can really start your writing process for the long term. So, i's something you can get into, and then at the end of this you're hopefully going to have a finished product, something you're really happy with. Remember, the goal with writing is not publishing, that's a wonderful thing to happen, but the goal is truth, the goal is authenticity. So, that's really what we're going to drive for because if you work from your authentic base wholeheartedly, it doesn't matter if the book gets published, it's going to be a great book. I don't really enjoy the idea of writing a novel, it freaks me out. But when I hear a piece of music, or see a painting, or hear a poem, I really love it, I really feel a connection to it, then I feel like I want to express something. That's why I've chosen writing, or that's why writing has found me. So, I have this sort of itch, this urge to express myself emotionally, which if I don't, I think I probably become unresolved. So, there knot in me that are just slowing or recharging my development. So, writing gives me a chance to explore myself, and more importantly, to express parts of myself that I really didn't think needed express but there they are. We are in my apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you were here with me now, you would be drinking tea. 2. The 6 Steps for Writing Success: Over the last 20 years, I've been going to conferences, and readings, and workshops. During that time, I've asked other writers like what's your process like, what really works for you? All this information that I've got and also by joining it with what works for me, I've consolidated this advice into six key steps which will really form the foundation of your work. So, those six steps of what we're going to go over today, they include all kinds of advice from writers alive such as Michael Cunningham to writers who are dead such as Carson McCullers, and I hope this is something that you're really going to find success with. So, the six steps we're going to go over today, which are going to help you write a book hopefully within 12 months include step one, which is finding a place which is exclusively yours to write. Step two, find a medium that helps you work, and that which allows the work to flow most effectively. Step three, read inspiring works only. Step four, setting the conditions which are best for you and most suited to the way you write. Step five, agree a time with yourself, find a routine that you stick to. Step six is sketching and staying inspired. 3. Step 1: Make Your Own Space: So, step one is finding a place that's exclusively yours, this is really, really, really useful. Because when we write, we're using language, the same words that we use everyday in our everyday conversations and at work. Yet, we are trying to accomplish something completely different with it. So, therefore, you need to have a place that you associate with these goals. In the same way that in a church or a mosque or a temple, you find these tables with a table cloth and sacred candles. I don't think that the candles are any different from other wax candles, but the idea is that they symbolize something different. I don't know of holy water is holy. I mean, I hope it is. But it just the idea that it could be the metaphor. So, that's what we're going for here. You need to find some kind of sacred space where you feel completely open and where you feel that you're able to be safe so that you can express things that you wouldn't be able to express. Say, sing at the same table where you pay bills on email or where you go shopping at Bloomingdale's. So, this place has to be really, really unique, and you might think, "Oh, Simon, I can really write anywhere." But if you try this, you'll find that actually you can write anywhere, sure, but this will actually speed up your writing. Meaning that you will get more out of the time you're sitting there than if you had just in some random place. Some people write in bed. Hemingway wrote standing up because he felt it was easier to write dialogue if you were standing. Marcel Proust, of course, wrote in bed. It doesn't matter, you have to find a place that's just going to be yours. So, if you share an apartment with someone and you don't have your own study, then I would suggest getting a table cloth that can maybe go over a family table. So, instead of sitting at the table and remembering the amazing or terrible meal that you had last night, you have the table cloth and your brain associates the cloth and the candle or the music with what you are going to be doing now so you don't get distracted. So, if you have nowhere in the apartment because you share it with people or it's small that even just a little folding table that you can put away, it's really, really important that you have a specific place where you feel you can work. For most of the time you sit there, it's going to feel terrible, it's not going to be inspiring because work isn't inspiring until the last stages of when it's ready to go to an editor. I mean, this is a great myth of writing, is that you sit down and you write and it comes out the way you read it in a book. It's just not the case, it's a complete mess and it's chaos, and you have to get used to that. So, having a safe space that's yours will really help you climatized to what you're doing. A final note for step one is if you aren't able to write in the same place in every day, for instance, I write in a new university library two or three days a week, it's not ideal because people are texting and like rattling like potato chip bags or they're like, "Trying to talk on the phone." So, it's not ideal. When I go to the restroom, do I leave my stuff or do I pack it up then risk losing my desk? It's quite stressful. But I have just had to lie to myself that as long as I'm within the library or as long as I'm wearing a particular band on my wrists or I have my ear plugs, everything's going to be fine. You're never going to find the perfect place. You can find a place that's yours, but the Russian director Tartakovsky said, "You will never find. An artist never created the ideal conditions ever.", and that actual tension is part of the work. 4. Step 2: Find Your Medium: Step two might seem obvious, but I find that it's very important because for years I wrestled with what to write on and how to write my books, should I did freehand? Should I use a desktop? Should I use a laptop? After I just decided to do what I absolutely wanted, I wrote much quicker. The idea of writing a whole manuscript is really, really intimidating. I've written several books, I still just quake with fear at the idea of page one. So, what I do is I trick myself, where I find a medium which is best suited to this particular book, so I can pretend that somehow it's not going to be as difficult as it is. So, for this book, The Illusion of Separateness. This is quite short actually. I think it's only about 35,000 words and this was written on a tablet with a stand. You see here I borrowed my daughter's because I destroyed the other one by just writing too much, I suppose. So, the tablet would be standing up like this and I would be writing. It doesn't work in airplanes for some reason. But, you can take it anywhere and you can do this. What's amazing is you can trick yourself into feeling like, well this is the actual page of the book. So, you feel like you've already been published and it's already right here, you just have to make it great. This is a Chinese brush set. Now, this is very good if you're writing maybe short stories or poems, because it really slows down the process. So, you have to get the ink and you have to form each letter. Then, the actual art of writing becomes part of the actual story and the art itself. In China, people don't look at just what you've written, they look at how you've written, and what your handwriting is like, and that relationship to what you've written. This is one of my favorite writers. I don't particularly love his work, but I find it extremely inspiring because it's so inventive, and so unique. One of the things I love about, there he is, Vladimi Naboko, the man himself. He's not only that he seemed like a pretty nice fellow and he loved butterflies, which is always nice. He wrote on index cards. So, remember step two is finding the medium that suits you best and sticking to it. A final note for step two is to switch off the Internet. This is because it's just so easy to get distracted whether by an email coming, or a pop-up, or some kind of ad. There's no reason why you need to know that underpants are on sale for the next three days. It's not important to what you're doing. For finding work later on, for finding information for your story later on, the Internet is excellent because you can get details about what would a medieval person in England have had in their pockets, you can find that out. That's good, but when you're actually conceiving work at this stage, it's better to have it off, and to really try and exist in solitude. 5. Step 3: Read Inspiring Works: Step three is to read inspiring works, to read only in books that you absolutely love. Now, this seems obvious but you'd be surprised at how many times people feel compelled to finish a book because they're 10, 20, 30 pages in. There are so many great books out there that within that you have a choice and that you're really going to be able to find books that you love so that all your reading is inspired. Remember, to write great books, you're going to have to read great books. Reading is like the food. Words go into your brain and then you reprocess them so that when you sit down to write you've really got a nice, almost like a barrel of words swirling around ready to come out in the way that you want them to. If you don't read inspiring work then, the process just might be a lot slower for you because you're not going to be making those connections in your work that you made with the work that you're reading. For instance, if you get inspired by characters and sentences then that excitement, that energy is going to travel into your work too. Now, you might be thinking, is there a danger here that I'm going to imitate while I'm writing and you probably will. But in the editing process when you've got a manuscript and you're going over and over and over and you finished the book that you loved months ago, you're going to really make everything consistent. So, you might copy a little bit, I mean copying is how we learn in many ways. So, don't be afraid to copy. Copy until you find your own style, your own voice. So, I'm going to show you some of the books that I love. This is one. I love the cover I think more than anything. Everybody wants a magic finger. This is something that I come back to on a weekly basis, James Joyce's "Dubliners", especially the last paragraph of a painful case and the dead. You can't see that this is a 19th century rare edition of "Silas Marner" by George Eliot. This was partially the inspiration from one of my novels called "Father's Day" about the relationship between a man and his surrogate daughter. This book is exactly that but set hundreds of years before. Don't worry too much about taking plot lines of characters from old books. Shakespeare took "Hamlet" from a story by a Danish writer called Saxo Grammaticus. "The Great Gatsby" is in many ways a retelling of Emily Bronte's "Weathering Heights", with Jay Gatsby playing the part of his cliff. So, was Fitzgerald reading "Weathering Heights" at the time he started to write T"he Great Gatsby"? Who knows but it's certainly possible. But if he hadn't been reading something inspiring he may not have. So, you understand the link between reading work that really inspires you such as "The Pocket Mirror" by Janet Frame. So, I keep these books in a pile close to where I work so that when I feel like things aren't going well, I can just dip in, I can just lose myself and I can remind myself what is possible. It's also a good idea to read work that you don't completely understand. The poetry of Dylan Thomas for me as an example of that, or E.E. Cumming, because when you are doing this I feel like it forces your brain to make connections between words that you ordinarily wouldn't. So that in your own writing, you find yourself taking many many more chances. This is a small thing. Also, the same thing comes from learning a language. If you can learn in Arabic or be learning something else well while you're writing, it's going to really improve, I feel that capacity of the brain where language is processed. A final note for step three which is to read only works that inspire you, is to be mindful of the idea that what you love to read is probably what you're going to write. So, when I was asked to write a novel by my publisher, I didn't really read novels. I didn't really like them that much to be honest. I found that I got bored pretty quickly. I loved short stories and poetry but in order to read a novel I quickly found that I was going to have to read a lot of them and I was going to have to find novels that I really loved, such as "The End Of The Affair" by Graham Greene. So, if you read horror then, you're probably going to be a horror writer, you're going to write horror. If you read short stories then you're right short stories. If you read books about people dressing up and running around in costumes, that's probably going to be a good genre for you. So, just bear in mind that what you're writing is probably going to be a mirror reflection of what you're reading. 6. Step 4: Set Your Conditions: Step four is to now create the conditions under which you're going to be most productive. For instance, for me, I like to be alone. I like that to be silence. I like the room to be very cold. I like to be dressed, shaved, and just really, really ready to get down to business. This seems again like it might be obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people just sit down to write and hope that they can get some writing done in the short space of time without those conditions. It's also good to have something to drink and here, I have my tea pot with my tea cosy knitted by old ladies to raise money for people in prison. So, this keeps the tea hot and I'm able just to keep going for long periods. Diet is especially important here. We're in an age now where the days of the cold water apartment and swigging whiskey while you are working, it's old hat. It's antiquated. Now, we're into health. Exercise is the new drug. So, my advice is to not to underestimate how much food can really affect your mood, sugar, and caffeine, and things like that. So, be mindful of how if you have a good meal the night before and you get to bed early, then you're really going to have a good writing day the next morning. But if you drink a lot the night before you go to bed late, then don't expect that you will really be making those connections. So, you should prepare food, sandwiches, shakes, smoothies. You should have vitamins, fish oil things that you know are going to help your brain. I mean, we live in an age of signs and signs tells us that the way our brain is working is key to what we're doing as writers. It obviously doesn't replace inspiration and hard work, but it's just another step in the right direction that's going to really make you a prolific writer. So, create those conditions whether you need darkness, whether you need to have music on in the background, whether you need to have a candle burning. It's very important that you just think about what you need and just make the area around you conducive to that. A final note for step four, which is creating the conditions under which you can be most prolific, is something that has to do with this picture. In this, you see Janet Frame who was probably New Zealand's most famous writer and there was a film made about her life called An Angel At My Table directed by Jane Campion. She was a very, very special person and here she is in a sort of a photo taken in the early 90s with her friend Barbara Woasper who was mentor to me. They're in wicker chairs drinking tea, laughing about nothing. In many ways, Janet Frame was the great genius of literature. So, this tells me that even great geniuses of literature can sit down, and have tea in wicker chairs, and have normal lives. If you didn't know who this was, it would just be like a behind the scenes portrait. It would just be some couple of old ladies. But when you know who is in this picture, it's just inspiring to see that people I really admire had sort of normal lives too. So, I keep this. I don't keep any photos of my family on my desk when I'm writing because they distract me, but this really inspires me just to keep working. 7. Step 5: Stick to a Routine: Step five is really, really important because without this step nothing is really going to happen. That is finding a routine, a time to write that suits a schedule and sticking to it. When you decide a time and your brain knows at this particular point, you're going to be sitting down and trying to write, something happens where I feel like you prepare. In the same way boxers I've spoken to never really get sick before they have a really important about because the brain is preparing for them to be in that ring at that time to meet their opponent. So the same thing is true I think for writing. If you know that at six o'clock in the morning on Thursday you're going to be at your desk with a cup of coffee, and you're not going to be disturbed and you're going to have an hour before everyone wakes up, an hour of silence when you can be alone to write, your brain is going to prepare for you to write. It's different from just being on a train and thinking, "I'm going to try and write now." This is the sacred time. I can't stress enough how important it is that if you say you're going to be somewhere at a certain time to write you really need to be there. Choose a time when you know that's going to be no other conflict and then unplug the phone, put your earplugs in, do whatever you need to do like in the previous step to create the conditions and really just sit down and start writing. What do you write about is something we're going to talk about a little bit later. But for now I want you to make sure that within your schedule there at least two times per week where you can get an hour or an hour and a half where you will not be disturbed at a place that's exclusively yours. A final note for step five is taken from some advice that was given to me by one of my favorite writers, Ann Micheals, who wrote Fugitive Pieces. When I asked her at a reading, when she wrote she said between the hours of midnight and 3:00 AM, and I wondered if it was a time that with picking quiet or she could be alone, and she said that was the only time that she felt her children were not in any danger because they're in their beds where nothing could hurt them. So for her, that was when she felt most comfortable to write. For me it's between 5:00 AM. and 10:00 AM. But remember, no time is going to be perfect because I take my daughter to school at seven o'clock. So, I don't really get the time I want so I get up a little bit earlier. Sometimes I get up at three or four o'clock in the morning to work and I don't enjoy this. For the first half an hour it really feels like I'm being tortured and that some little person is just pushing down on my eyelids. I would love more than anything to go back to bed, but if you don't take your writing seriously no one else is going to take it seriously. But if you get up when you say you're going to get up three, four, five o'clock in the morning and you work then suddenly everyone around you realizes that what you're doing is pretty important and they better help you be in a position to do it. I'd also like to say that when it comes to agreeing a time, you can change the time. If the seasons change, or if your kids are off to school, or if you go on holiday for a few weeks, just plan in advance, planning ahead is the key here if you know you're going to be on vacation. Is there a library near the hotel? Is there a part of the hotel that's very quiet where you won't be disturbed? If you can plan then you will always have time to write and that's very important if you're going to write a book. 8. Step 6: Sketch to Stay Inspired: Now we come on to step six, which has two parts to it. The first is something called sketching and the second is staying inspired, two real key elements now that you ought to consider. So let's talk about sketching. A friend of mine who is a painter, when he's not working on an exhibition or when he doesn't know what his next project will be, he hires a few models a couple of times a week who come to his studio and he paints them. He just sketches different parts of their bodies or if he can't get any models, he'll go to a museum and he'll walk around the museum and he'll just sketch hands in different paintings, he'll just copy them. When I asked him how he learned to paint I said, "You have such a gift, were you born with it?" He said, "No of course not." He said he doesn't believe that people are born with the ability to paint or to write, he believes that people are born with the obsession to paint and the obsession to write. It's from that obsession that you develop your talent. So for instance, he was obsessed with copying with color and light when he was a child. He was constantly reproducing things he saw, anything in a book that he thought looked good, he would copy it. So you can tell somebody who may become an artist it's because they're imitating and copying other artists. So he said he didn't learn to paint or draw at art school, he learned by going to museums and simply copying other paintings. Because when you look at a painting close up, it doesn't look the same as when you look at it from a distance. The illusion doesn't happen at a close proximity and it's exactly the same with writing. When you're working on a manuscript, when you are very close to it, there's no magic because you're right there in the trenches of language. But when the book is finished and you read it as a whole then the magic happens. So, that sketching tool that he does is key for you as a writer for two reasons. The first is that it's going to keep your writing muscle quite supple and it's going to keep you flexible, it's going to strengthen your ability to language. Secondly, it's going to lead you into the stories that you need to tell. Some people think you can't teach someone to write, and I don't know if that's true or not. But what I believe is that you can definitely teach people to find their stories, and then they're going to develop their own style. You can't teach someone how to write because there's no one particular style of writing. But you can teach people how to write in their own particular style. Here is a book that I'm reading at the moment that I really I'm enjoying and it's by a new Irish writer. Sketching can also mean copying out a couple of paragraphs that you really loved. So if you're reading say, Lolita by Nabokov, and there's a section where you just can't believe how good it is, copy it out. Copy it out five, six, seven, eight times. If there are books that you don't particularly like but that are famous books, maybe something by Virginia Woolf or Charles Dickens, then copy out the part you don't like and rewrite it in a way that you think is better. Don't worry Virginia Woolf is not going to rise from the grave and haunt you. I don't think she is. But it's going to give you a sense then of your own writing voice, your own writing style. Not something that you need to find. Once you've found it then your style is going to be unique and of course it's going to evolve over time and you need to let it evolve because the only thing an artist cannot do is stay fixed in one particular place. If you look at the work of any great genius of art, from Van Gough to Shostakovich, the work undergoes a development. Early Beethoven sounds very much like Haydn. Late Beethoven is completely unique. Other things that you can sketch that will help you with sketching, this is a little rabbit called Tuesday who is a member of the household. When you have people like this living with you, what you realize after a while is that they all have their own personalities. So, you could get someone like Tuesday from a thrift store. Thrift stores are excellent because you can also buy random shoes. Why are these good for sketching? Well, you can set Tuesday on the desk and you can write about who owned him, and who is now separate from him, and who is now an old woman that was once a young woman who owned this rabbit. What's the story of this rabbit? By writing the story of the rabbit, of course, you're really writing your own story, and that's the key to great work. It's that it's a collaboration between someone else's life and your life. So you're bridging seemingly disparate emotional elements of the world. This is my wife's shoe and she's going to see it, now I'm immortalized forever by SkillShare. But just buy a random shoe, pick one I've seen on the ground pick it up and then maybe take it home. Who wore this shoe? If you look at the pressure on the bottom that was someone's desire to get somewhere. Why? Where were they going? So, I'll show you my notebooks. Sketching is really an excellent way to just practice writing, get ideas. This is an idea for a scene in a new book I'm writing. Here, maybe character development. I think one thing here says, "The small robot rabbit can shoot lasers from his eyes." I would've forgotten that if I had written it down. I found this on a bag from a restaurant and cut it out I quite liked it. I found this at a church in Rome and I quite liked it. It's a sketch of Jesus dying in someone's arms. But it's so beautiful, the expressions on their faces. So, little things like this you keep scrapbooks. So, now, when you come to the previous step which is a great time to sit down and write, you actually have something to type up. You're not simply just looking at a blank computer screen, you actually have something you can do. If you've typed it up and you're not inspired to keep writing, then you can do some more sketching. You can copy out parts of books and rewrite those paragraphs. But, what I think you'll find is, as you copy this out, you will automatically want to add to it and then that's the beginning of your book or the beginning of your story. This is a particularly beautiful notebook but remember that luxury and beauty can sometimes be a distraction. This notebook is so beautiful I haven't even used it because it's too beautiful to write in therefore it's completely useless. Here's another little notebook meant for my pockets which is actually more useful than this giant notebook here. I also have a Polaroid camera so I can take pictures of places that I know later on I'm going to maybe use. So here is the elevator at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. Here's a random woman's coat. Here's a picture of a man with his child in the middle of a field. Here's a picture of a pool at a hotel with no one in it. Here's a picture of my daughter at a strange museum of stone heads. 9. Wrapping Up: At this stage, two very important things I'd like to share with you. First, there might be two kinds of writing and I'll call them conscious writing and unconscious writing. So, conscious writing is very much when you are aware of what you're doing. You're sitting there and you're going over and you're thinking, "Is this plausible, how do I develop this character?", you know "Oh, he's getting up at 3:00 a.m, but I didn't even say he'd gone to bed." This is conscious writing, and then there's unconscious writing where you don't really know what's happening, you're just typing it out as it comes to you. Some things are brilliant, and later on you'll realize some of the things you thought were brilliant were not brilliant, and some of the things you thought were a little stupid were actually amazing. So unconscious writing is usually what people would consider sort of like free form or like spontaneous writing, whereas, conscious is editing. So, if we accept that there are these two categories, then what we're doing right now is, in these six steps, we're creating the foundation where you're going to be able to do both. Where you're going to have a place where you can create work, you can write unconsciously, and where you can also edit, and finalize things. I think it was T.S. Eliot who said, "Often when writing is bad, it's because the writer was conscious when they should have been unconscious, and unconscious when they should have been conscious", which without the context of what I just said doesn't make sense, but you can get why that's hilarious. The second thing I'd like to talk to you about, is how I want you to be prepared to live with absolute chaos. It's going to feel terrible. Like this whole writing process does not feel great, even for me now it feels pretty awful. Actually, it's very stressful. It's like being a very sensitive interior designer and going to a construction site when all the workers are there, and they're eating sandwiches, and they're drinking giant cans of iced tea, and there's garbage everywhere, and it's just you, you just want to weep. Because it's like you are months away from being able to do your thing, which is to decide the paint, and where to hang pictures, and just to make it look really amazing. So, but you get to spend most of your time with these construction workers in the guts of the project. So when surgeons work it's blood, and things moving, and it's not like working on a sketch from Grey's Anatomy. So just get used to the fact that you're going to be in the goal, in the trenches, and nothing's going to feel like it's working probably. There will be moments of sunshine where a sentence comes out very well or something happens on the page where you know it's not going to really change. But most of it is, it's not going to feel good and you're going to feel like you're failing. This is where most writers just stop because they're like I'm not a writer, it's just not going well, it's really hard. That's what you're supposed to be feeling. If you felt like it was great and it was going well all the time then I'm not sure that you'd be really producing first rate work. So be prepared for chaos, be prepared for a constant sense of failure, and that's what really, really makes you a writer. It's not prizes, or publication, or money, or great reviews, it's keeping going. It's holding true when everything feels like it's going wrong, and when everything's failing, and you keep going, and that's really what makes you a writer. And so those are the six steps. And what I think you'll find is that when you follow them very closely, you are not going to have any kind of difficulty with what to write or when to write because everything is covered. This foundation is something that you can use for years, and years, and years to come, and if it's something you are serious about then it's really going to be the anchor in your creative life. Another thing I'd like to add before we go on to the next segment, which is about crafting characters, and managing plot, and getting into the real technical side of writing, is I want to remind you that writing is really an act of faith. None of this is true. None of this is happening in real life, and you don't know if anyone's going to read it or be interested in it, and all these chaos, where is it all going to end. So, it requires a massive amount of faith and a willingness to just do it regardless of whether you feel you'll be a success in the end. So if you can just have faith and just do it, and just know deep down that in the end it's all going to come out really well, and that you serve the work rather than serving yourself, then it's really going to go well. I once asked Michael Cunningham, I said, "How do you deal with editing, and how do you deal with the process of writing?" Because It's quite hard, and he said, when he flicks through one of his books he can't tell the good days from the bad days and so he said, "You just clock in, you put your time in, you have faith that what you're writing is going to at some point work, and be logical, and people are going to really like and it respond to it, and that's all you have to do." If you serve the work, then you'll always be successful because you're working for something outside of yourself rather than for yourself. So, remember to have a great amount of faith that everything you're doing is at some point going to come together and be exactly what needs to be. It may not be as you imagined it, it may be completely different, the story may be different, the characters may have decided to do other things, but if you were following the six steps and you had faith, something wonderful is going to happen at the end. You may not tell the story you set out to, but you will have told your story. That's really something that can't be replicated because years from now when you're dead and I'm dead, you may have left somebody a house or Rolls Royce and that's lovely. But, imagine years from now, a hundred years in the future somebody finding your book, or your journal, or your memoir and opening it and understanding how you felt, like it's the history of how you feel, it's the history of your life. And then if they can respond to that, you've just connected to someone in the future that you'll never meet. That to me is really why we're doing this.