Lately, we’ve put up blogs about how to improve your writing, how to get the best out of your writing, and that sort of thing. We haven’t really put up anything about how to write, though. The reason for this is simple.
There is no ‘how to do it’ that will suit everybody.
There are no lessons where somebody can be sat down and taught how to place one word after another, how to string sentences together, how to unfold paragraphs to tell a story, how to tell the story itself, when the best time to do all this is, what the aim should be everyday, etc.
Sure, education can give you pointers about what might work. Editing can help establish parameters, can show you what you can flesh out and what you can prune. But as far as the act of writing itself goes, you can only learn through doing it and finding your own way.
It’s important to absorb as much information as possible to accomplish this. Do all the things we’ve suggested. Find ideas that appeal to you. Read books about writing; study; read and read and read; workshop; and get your writing edited or appraised; take this galaxy of information and assimilate it, but then it’s only through writing that you filter techniques that work for you.
Don’t get disheartened either by listening to the successes of others. Somebody might tell you they write one thousand words a day. Wow. One thousand words. Great. Fantastic. Awesome – for them. You might work at a more sedate pace and produce only one hundred words a day. That doesn’t make your efforts any less valid.
Or you might hear from somebody how they get up at 6.00am and write for half an hour before they get ready to start their day. Again, great – for them. You mightn’t be a morning person. Your head mightn’t start ticking over until afternoon, or even evening. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t follow the same routine. Even if your life isn’t dissimilar to this person (e.g. you might both work full-time, be married and have two kids) YOU are dissimilar. We’re not on this Earth as clones. Every one of us is unique.
You just need to do it. Don’t talk about doing it but never do it. Don’t wax lyrical about all the great novels you plan to write and then never get a single word down for any of them. Don’t regale yourself with fantasies of your successes, book tours, and interviews on Oprah, but never actually pen a word.
Don’t (and excuse the English) NOT do it, and definitely DON’T compare yourself to the successes of others and allow those to intimidate or overwhelm you into inaction, or into making you feel inferior, or as if it’s all hopeless.
We all find our own way, and we do so with the intent of telling the stories we want to tell, that only we can tell, and not for the fame or glory or riches (although obviously that stuff would be nice), but because inherently it’s something we want to do, need to do, and love to do.
Let your writing take you where it will. Find the habits that suit you (and your lifestyle). Write as much as you can in the time you have available. But do it. Do it and find out the writer you are, the patterns you need to observe, and the techniques that help you get the best out of yourself.
Most of all, just write.
And be proud of yourself doing it.