Something you might not know is that I actually went to college for writing. My aunt gave me a journal for my tenth birthday. It was yellow with little blue flowers on it. I don’t know what prompted her to pick that gift for me, but she’s always had an odd all-knowing sense about me. The rest, as they say, is history.
It took me longer than I care to admit to realize that writing was a talent. Because I’ve always done it, and I’ve always wanted to do it, I didn’t realize that not everyone has that urge, that craving to write.
Much like the urge to pee, it can’t be ignored. When it hits, I have to do it. Whether in a notebook, on a scrap of paper, or tapping away on a computer, come hell or high water, I’ve written nearly every day since that day I got my first journal.
One blog, one book, and a million false starts later, I have some thoughts to share with you.
You just have to sit down and start.
If I actually wrote as often as I think about writing, I’d be a world famous writer on a fancy book tour already. The truth is, I agonize over finding time, making time, being in the mood more than I actually just sit down and write. I’ve come to find that if you just sit down, eliminate the distractions, once you’re doing it, it comes to you.
It’s not as glamorous as people make it out to be.
I like the cafe-writing-lifestyle as much as the next girl, but most of the time it looks nothing like that. More often than not, I’m sitting with unwashed hair in mis-matched pajamas staring bleary-eyed at a computer screen for hours only to delete every word I wrote the next day.
Everyone does it differently.
The number one question I got asked after publishing Yeah, maybe was how I did it. I had people sending me their outlines, their ideas, etc, looking for approval and validation. And I told every single person the exact same thing: I can’t tell you how to do this. You have to do it whatever way feels right to you. If sitting down and outlining every chapter feels right, then do it. If developing your characters is all you need, do that. For me, all I did was create the town, the school, and the characters. I had literally no idea where the book would take me. I just put the characters into the world I created, sat down every week (I wrote a chapter a week), and let them take me wherever they wanted to go.
A first draft is just telling yourself the story.
At least it was for me. Like I said, I just created the people and the place and let them run rampant. It was really freeing to know that everything I wrote didn’t have to stay. Sometimes after writing something, I’d feel it in my gut that it wasn’t right. It taught me a lot about who I wanted my characters to be and how they actually behaved.
Insecurity doesn’t go away after publishing.
At least it didn’t for me. I spent a lot of time waiting for validation as a writer. Waiting for that one moment when there was a clear definitive answer, a before and after. I wasn’t a writer and now I am. It never came. It doesn’t matter what degree I have, how many blog posts I write, how many articles I contribute or how many books I publish, I’ve come to accept that there is no clear before and after with art. The clarity and validation looks and feels different for everyone.
The one overarching truth I’ve found in the writing world is that everyone is different. Lean inside yourself, find your voice and use it.