by Josh Langston
Writers write. It’s as simple as that. Good writers tend to write a lot. That’s a big part of how they became “good” writers. If you aspire to become a writer, or if you’re already a writer and you want to improve your craft, the only way to ensure you’ll make progress is to put your butt in a chair and your fingers on a keyboard.
That alone isn’t a magical solution. You won’t learn proper techniques for grammar, punctuation, or anything else. But if you do some actual writing, you might just get your story out of your head and into some format that will allow you to work on it even more later. The important part — usually the hardest part — is writing down the tale that’s been needling you for the past few weeks, months or even years. The story sure as hell won’t tell itself! You have to do it.
While this is certainly true of fiction, it’s absolutely true of memoir. You’re the only one who knows your story the way you do. As simplistic as that sounds, I’ve talked to people who are perfectly capable of telling their own story, but they complain that ghostwriters cost too much. Here’s a thought: write it yourself!
The reasons people toss off for why they aren’t writing are absolutely legion. “I’m too busy” is a great favorite. Most of the too-busy people I know, myself included, are too busy because we’re lousy at organizing our time. Find a half hour a day — morning, noon or night, it doesn’t matter — and set it aside as writing time.
Another one I just love to hear: “I’m waiting for inspiration.” Right. Like the Muse or the Goddess of Literature is going to appear to you in all their radiant glory and whack you upside the head with the inspiration stick. What a crock. Remember Thomas Edison’s take: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” (Right now I’m channeling the Muse ripping into someone’s gray matter to whisper something inspiring.)
Yet another favorite is, “I don’t have a place to write, a place all my own — a hideaway, a garret, or a cell in a monastery — where I can work undisturbed.” Seriously? How ’bout the back seat of your car, or a table for two (you and your laptop) at the nearest Starbucks? They’ll even provide free Wi-Fi, not that you’ll need it because you’ll be busy working on your masterpiece. You won’t have time for Solitaire, or Facebook, or E-mail, or Amazon, or any of the other bazillion distractions provided by the web
“Who’s gonna watch my kids?” I dunno, maybe your spouse? Your next door neighbor? The grandparents? Check local churches for a “Mother’s Morning Out” program, even if you’re a dad. Worst case: load up the car — or a wagon, or a city bus — with kids and laptop, and cruise over to the local playground, or the schoolyard, or some other place where the little ones might be able to entertain themselves while you sneak in a half hour of creative “me” time.
What you need to be striving for is the habit. Write every day, even if what you write isn’t part of your magnum opus. It could be a blog, or a journal, or a rant to the editor of the local newspaper. It could be a letter to your dear, old Aunt Edna for that matter. Whatever. Just do some writing every day that isn’t required for your job. It must be writing that comes from inside you.
Why? Because that’s where the magic begins. That’s where the stories live. It’s your job to find a way to get them out and share them with the world.
Guest post contributed by Josh Langston. A graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism, Josh’s writing tastes quickly shifted away from reportage. His fiction has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and he currently has two short story collections in the Amazon top 100 for genre fiction.
Great post! Thank you.
So true. Excuses will only hold you back. Thanks for this great post!
Reblogged this on WILDsound Festival.
I agree. Make it a habit. It’s the best way to accomplish things on the regular. Once it becomes a habit, it takes the work of beginning out of it. You just do it, when you do it because it’s habit!
Reblogged this on Cynthia Hilston – Author & Blogger and commented:
Yes, writing every day is hugely important for any writer. Even if it’s 10 minutes, it’s something. We can all find 10 minutes. I started my writing by promising myself I’d write for 15 minutes a day, if nothing else. I stuck to it, and now, three and a half years later, I’ve written 5 manuscripts, published three books, and have two WIPs. I write at least 30 minutes a day now, but still, I think it’s pretty amazing what a person can accomplish!
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You’ve taken away all of four excuses. 🙂
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Reblogged this on reviewerpj.
Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog.
This is so true! I have always loved writing, but only when I committed to writing literally anything for at least 500 words a day, no matter how busy I was, did I actually begin to create things I felt confident sharing. I write anything, from short stories to beautifully explained journal entries to thoughts on something I learned that week. Practice makes perfect and there will always be an excuse not to write! It doesn’t mean it’s a valid one though.
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Reblogged this on S. Moore.
Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide.
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What if the problem is disbelief? What if you are in your twenties and really want to write something great but quickly realize that you are in your twenties and your mother still does your laundry and you are sort of a moron? Just an hypothetical question.
It’s sort of a muscle memory kind of thing. After a while it becomes automatic. That’s the place we want to be.
Just show up. Everyday. 5 minutes or 50–doesn’t matter–as long as you’re there.
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Reblogged this on IdeasBecomeWords and commented:
Laugh out loud with
recognition … oh my word 🙈
(Has this genius blogger
been watching my lack of
Loved this post 💫
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Now I’m thinking I should put phone down and start typing my manuscript 👌🏼🤗
Really nice points and I like
Josh said the reasons not to write are “legion” ha
And keeping a paper journal has helped me write daily – maybe writing 300 days out of the year because a natural enb and flow of life might mean not writing every single day! But we do need to write a lot to hone our craft – and get ideas and process – as was noted here.
I noticed that josh went from journalism to fiction and this post seemed heavy geared towards fiction and then just the mention of memoir –
But there are also other ways to write to get that pencil or pen moving – or keyboard keys tapping –
And using a journal has helped me do that – sometimes just reflecting on the day – writing about a memory – or logging goals and what ideas are for an upcokmg whatever
Sometimes lists or word webs unfold with a journal –
Or for those really into fiction – well they could do one page character developments and have different journals for different ideas (or computer folders)
Anyhow – enjoyed the enthusiasm in the writing here – the author seems to have a passion and love for people and is quite encouraging
Reblogged this on Inky Wellsworth and commented:
It’s often a challenge, but… Great advice!
Reblogged at http://www.Inkywellsworth.com
I am relatively new to this writing adventure. Being retired and financially secure (hopefully), my energy has needed a place to stop and refuel. The more that I write, the more satisfied I feel. Great post . . . your meandering prose was fun to read as well as motivating to me. Thanks for topping off my fuel tank!