Okay, since I sort of started down this path last week, when I talked about the fact that first drafts suck, I got to thinking about some other advice I’d give to someone who wants to write fiction.
And I decided that the second most important piece of advice that I wished someone had given me years ago is this:
I know. It almost seems simple enough to be stupid. But you’d be amazed at how many people out there say they want to write. They’ve got a great story they’re just bursting to tell. And they’ll get right to it…right after this week’s episode of America’s Next Big Fake Media Star, or the campaign they’re running in WoW, or one last check of Facebook after supper.
And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have other hobbies, because you should. Especially the kind that feed your creative spirit and set your mind free to explore new possibilities. Nor am I saying that you should neglect family, friends, job, or basic household chores.
But if you really want to call yourself a writer, you have to write. And the best way to do that is to try to get into the habit of writing on a regular schedule. Whether it’s every day, or every other day, or once a week on Sundays, if you’re going to write, establish a schedule and try to stick with it. I usually find that I can squeeze in (or squeeze out, depending on the kind of day I’m having) about twenty minutes in the morning before work, and twenty minutes before bed at night. That’s not a lot of time. But, as it turns out, it’s enough to let me eke out between three and five hundred words a day.
Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But 300 words times 360 days (giving myself a few off for holidays) is over 100,000 words. More than enough to produce a big, meaty novel every year. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always take this piece of very good advice, though. For whatever reason, I find it difficult to be productive, writing-wise, in the summertime. Too many distractions, I guess.
But one thing that’s been helping me this summer is that my friend Kristin put together a little band of writers whose goal is to write at least 250 words a day. Every day, members post to the group about their writing progress (or lack thereof). It’s not a critique group; rather, it’s more of a support group and cheerleading squad. I’ve found it very helpful as far as prodding me to make at least a little forward progress on my current writing projects. Even though some days it’s not easy!
But what it all boils down to is that words don’t just fall out of the sky and land on your computer screen. You have to make them happen. And if you choose to do that, on whatever schedule works best for you, then you’re a writer.