I’m not going to say I’m the best writer in the world. I’m far from it.
What I have done, that most people can’t say they have, is write a book. I seldom give out the information, but when I do, I tend to hear the comment, “I wish I could write a book,” or they person harps about how amazing it is that I managed to do such an incredible feat.
I’ve written the rough drafts of two books in one year – I don’t consider this much of a feat and I didn’t dedicate huge amounts of time to it. I took an idea that I had, wrote it down, and then ruminated on it. It took me a while until I felt ready to write, but once I did, I took time to write.
Amazing, but most people have story ideas rolling around in their heads, but few people ever write them down. Ray Bradbury had this to say: Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”
The biggest trick to writing is writing. There is a sense of discipline to it, but it doesn’t have to “I’ll write this many words every day.” That might be a great way to write a novel, but there are times when you won’t want to write. If you write then, you’ll write crap. I write in spells. I’ll have a few months of manic, torrential writing followed by a few months of drought. I get tired of my story and my characters, because I spend far more time with them than the reader ever will.
So you need to write, and you need to write when the inspiration strikes. You can’t write for an end goal, you need to write to create. You need to flow with the words and the atmosphere of the story. The goal of writing isn’t to make money, it’s to tell a story, and that is important to remember.
This applies to every sort of writing. I know so many fellow students who struggle to write papers. They labor over their work, and I think it’s because they don’t give it any thought. I spend a lot of time ruminating over my story. I think of the characters all the time: in the car, in church, while I’m going to the bathroom. This helps me to become familiar with them.
I also think about academic papers that I have to write. I don’t banish the topic to some corner of my mind and ask it to stay away. I interact with the material and think about it.
So, to sum everything up, to write you need to put your fingers to your keyboard. You need to write when you feel good writing, and you need to think about what you’re writing before you sit down to write it.
If you follow me on twitter, I won’t write you a love song, though.