02 April, 2018
Nothing and Something Every time a writer puts pen to page, or binary code to laptop, he or she takes a risk. Will the audience love my writing? Will I get an agent? Will this book ever get published? Then there are other risks like: should I get an Mfa? What happens if you don't take a risk? Two things. Nothing and Something. Wait, you mean I don't have to take a risk? I can leave my novel about giant chicken invaders in the drawer or on my laptop? Yes. That is your right. And nothing will happen to the novel. But something will happen to you...if you are truly a writer. Because someone who is truly a writer can't let their writing sit for weeks or months or years without be touched, without doing some work on it. Someone who is truly a writer can't go a day without thinking about their writing. It could be thoughts on a novel in progress, or an idea for a new novel that bubbles to the surface of your psyche. Regardless, you will feel the effects of not writing: sorrow, a feeling of being out of step with the world, confusion, irritability. A complete shut down of all mental faculties, leaving you howling in the corner of your bedroom in a tattered robe, with a boiled egg in your pocket. Okay, the last one was an exaggeration, but you get my point. Not taking a risk in writing your novel or short story, or picture book affects you as a person because you are a writer. There is nothing on this good Earth that will satiate your writing passion except writing. I have a YA scifi novel that I am editing. I think I'm on draft four. It should be done by the end of the month. I don't write dozens of drafts. I write a solid, meaty, first draft and hit each revision hard--not allowing myself to shy away from dumping paragraphs or characters, or going line by line to make sure I told the story in the best way possible. I am ruthless at editing and revision. I have a list of ideas for at least half a dozen scifi and fantasy novels that I'm ready to get started on. My mind is a writer's mind and it never stop. And I am so blessed and grateful that it doesn't. What if you don't think about writing every week or you pull out your novel you've been working on for the past ten years and have a go at it once a year? Does this mean you're not a writer? I think it means your a hobbyist. Which is fine. Writing isn't your passion. Something else is. Writing may be your stress reliever or quirkiness that exhibits itself once or twice a year, but it is not who you are. What if you used to write daily or even weekly and it's been a month or six months or even a year since you've written anything beyond a report for work? Are you exhibiting the signs I mentioned above? If so, you need to cut out the fluff in your life and get back to writing. If not, that means your passion lies elsewhere and you should figure out what it is. Being a writer doesn't mean you have to write 5,000 words a day or even 500. Sit down and write. Your writing brain will let you know when it's time to stop for the day. Let writing be a natural extension of who you are. I don't know who said it, but it's so true "we always make time for what's important." You have time to write 5 pages a day in your twenty four hour day.