This is a kick in the ass to you, to me, to everyone who ever wanted to write and had an hour that they wasted. Writers are dreamers. They have to be. It’s in the job description. But not all dreamers are writers. Some go on dreaming, and their stories are never written, never shared. That part of dreaming is hard work. It’s easier to read silly articles like this than to find the courage to dive in. It’s easier to write silly articles like this than to dive in. Whatever demon is holding you back, I’ve already encountered it, danced with it, sat on a porch and had a fiddle duel with it. Let me save you some trouble.
That’s a comforting little prolepsis, isn’t it? You can’t succeed either, though. Next!
I don’t have enough time to write a novel.
You may not have enough time to write one in a couple months, true, but think of the time you do have, and where it is being squandered. Games on your phone? Reality TV? Reading silly little articles like this? Come on, this one is bullsh*t and we all know it. If there’s one thing a dreamer knows how to do, it’s piss away time. Keep a word count and hold yourself to it. Dream less, DO more.
I’m not sure where to start.
Not many of us are. Work on your plot. Get some cue-cards and start sketching out your characters, see if they have any ideas. Write the scene that is sticking in your mind, even if it’s not the beginning. Get some words under your belt, start feeling like a writer. What the heck do you have to lose?
I’ve got a great idea, but nothing comes out right on the page.
They say we’ve all got a story inside us, and they may well be right, whoever they are. But getting it out of us, that’s the trick. The telling of it is where the real work lies, the pain and struggle, and most of us balk when the going gets too tough. It takes an equal measure of madness and hubris to believe that what we have to say is worth saying, and that others will find it worth reading. So do you believe? Are you willing to work, and to suffer? Then write that page again, and again, until it is right. Pay attention to the language, the word choice, the rhythm of your sentences, read them aloud if it helps, and write! For crying-out-loud, just write! Who do you want to be – just another chump with a story stuck inside or an author?
If Your Vision Doesn’t Cost You Anything,
It’s Just a Dream
I’ve got half a book and I’m stuck.
Who isn’t? Take a step back, write something else. A short story, an article, a blog post (yes, I’m stuck at the moment), anything, but keep those writing muscles working. If you’re stuck because you don’t know which way to go at a pivotal juncture, write both options and see which one feels right. Write a dozen options, even if they’re all dead-ends, until the only path left is the correct one. The writing is never wasted if it helps you find your way back to the story.
I’m not good enough, or I don’t have the skills to pull off what I’m trying to convey
Keep writing. Or better yet, read. Read every book in your genre, and a bunch outside of it too. And then re-read the ones that blow you away and see how they did it. Baby steps. Emulate your favorite authors, but don’t try to be them. There will always be other, better writers, and thank god for that, but there is only one you. Tell the story the best way you can, the way only you can, and some day others might be re-reading what you’ve written to see how you did it.
I finished a book but can’t get it published.
There’s a long queue at this complaint line, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t sympathize. You’d be hard pressed to find an author that doesn’t have a book in the drawer. Big deal. You learned, you grew, you built some skills, and YOU FINISHED A BOOK, so you know you can do it again. So do it again. Or if you’re still enamored with the project, re-write it. And then re-write again until it is ready.
There’s no easy way through this, no shortcuts, no amount of silly articles you can read that will write that book for you. But there are hours being wasted when you aren’t at least trying.
Any excuses I’ve missed? Leave them in the comments and I’ll give you a good swift kick of a retort. Happy struggles!