Please, please read this...

Please, please read this... - student project

What's very important to realize, especially at this time--is that the only thing you need to write great fiction is the person staring back at you in the mirror.  Look at that person, believe in that person; every journey starts with a leap of faith into the unknown.  Even I feel anxious about writing, even after 13 books--but the urge to do it has to be stronger than the fear of failure.  In my opinion, when your fingers hit the keys, or the pen touches paper--you've won in a very deep way.

We spend an enormous amount of time telling ourselves why it's not going to work.  Coming up with reasons why it's too hard, or that we're not ready.  

But once you see writing as something you MUST do, like getting up and going to work, or using the restroom when you're in the middle of something.  Once you make this mental leap to a MUST instead of a WANT, and decide that writing a story is something that you absolutely have to do, then get excited because it's going to happen.  There is nothing else in your way.

Maybe jot down a sentence right now, or perhaps the name of the street where the story takes place.  These easy first steps will help you make the first stroke upon the canvas.  And remember--there are no such things as mistakes.  Every step will take you to the next.

The first draft might not be a good story.  My first drafts are all terrible, shameful, horrible things.  But it's a start and that's what counts.  You can't get something from nothing.  But from a first draft--even a page, even a paragraph, you can build and build until you have a piece of writing that's superb and that you can read aloud and be pleased with, or perhaps something you can use to start building a longer piece--such as a novel.

Remember, writing is not easy.  The most exciting part sometimes comes after the most boring part--laying down a first draft.  

It is rather like building a house.  

If you are like many people, then it's the decorating that's really the fun part. But for most of the construction, it's a messy, ugly process, and everything feels like it's going wrong.  If this is how writing feels to you, then that's a really good sign, because it means you're trying to wrestle out something completely amazing.  You're trying to create something new and original in the world.  Bravo!

At this point you have a decision to make.  You can be someone who gives up, or someone who keeps going.  Relentless people are those who come up with cures for elusive diseases, invent brilliant machines, and make huge contributions to society through the medium which feels most natural to them.  If you don't believe me, ask anyone who is massively successful, and they'll list (probably with great enjoyment) the many times they have failed in their attempts to do something great.

The sooner you get used to feeling like you've failed, the sooner you can channel that energy back into your work.

As for the image of me in Paris with a camera, this was a time in in my life when I couldn't sell a story, or a book, or anything.  I might look confident, but I was freaking out.  On that trip I doubted everything I thought I knew.  But I kept writing because I had stories to tell.  Your 'will' can be stronger than fear, so trust yourself.   It reminds me of the musicians who played while the Titanic was sinking.  They did what they loved right up to the end.

If you want to write a story.  Just start.  Get a few words down, a paragraph, a page, anything.  Then just keep going back to it.  Be relentless.  Remember also to read books only that inspire you.  Don't think about becoming a writer, write yourself into one. 

Then just write and write, and don't let fear hold you back.  Write the sort of story that you would LOVE to read.  There is nothing in your way now except the obstacles you have imagined, but which don't exist outside your mind. 

Let this weird time be the season you take control of your work, and break the old habits that are holding you back.

You friend, as always, through good times and bad,


Author and Editor