by Jackie King
Is there anyone out there who longs to write but thinks it’s too late in life for them to start? Well, let me tell you that’s just not true. The secret to making dreams come true is immediate action! So if you long to write—start today. All you need is some kind of paper and a pen or pencil.
We can make our own dreams come true with courage and regular work.
If you only want to daydream about writing a novel or nonfiction book or your memoirs, there’s nothing wrong with just being a fellow traveler. Feel free to enjoy your fantasy with a clear conscience. I have my own just-for-fun pipe dreams—one of my books being optioned for a movie, winning the lottery, or becoming slim again. All very fun to think about, but I can survive if these things don’t happen. But if you’re serious about writing, that’s a doable goal. Put words on paper today with the goal of creating a story, a novel, an article or a poem, and presto chango, you’re a writer!
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well it is. But remember: creative writing is hard and you will have to work at your dream regularly. But achieving your dream is also rewarding. If you’ve always longed to write, the only thing that will satisfy that inner-craving is to put words on paper.
How to start?
Your first draft needs to be written without self-editing. We all have an evil voice inside our heads that says, ‘What makes you think that you can write?’ Even writers who are famous and successful battle this voice. The trick is push past those doubts and focus on the story you want to tell.
Something to remember:
Give yourself permission to write badly. Anne Lamott says in her wonderful book BIRD BY BIRD, that it’s required to write a sh*tty first draft. I love this woman’s advice on writing. This one tip alone can give a person the courage to put their fingers on the keyboard.
Oh, another thing: after that first burst of creative energy, say about chapter five, you’ll suddenly lose momentum. (This could happen earlier.) Another idea will come to mind and you’ll be tempted to start a new book with this ‘better’ idea. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked because writing the first book has become hard. I’ve already told you that writing is work. The very same thing will happen again with the new premise. Then again. And again. Make a few notes about your new idea and put it in a file called ‘story ideas,’ and soldier on with your first book. If you don’t, you’ll never finish a book.
This happened to me with THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE, my first mystery in the Grace Cassidy series. The initial chapter almost wrote itself. I was staying in a Bed and Breakfast, breathing in the atmosphere; sure I’d finish this book in a month. Sadly that didn’t happen. The process was lengthy but I learned a lot writing that first mystery.
Problems started when I got home, and that voice in my head started spouting off: ‘Okay, smarty-pants, the dead guy’s clothes weren’t anywhere to be found. How are you going to explain that? And, ‘your murderer is way too obvious; no editor will want to publish this story’. Plus, ‘You’ve set this poor woman up to be totally destitute. No one is completely without resources these days, how can that be? And so on.
I was full of doubts, but I was also stubborn. I dug in my heels, brainstormed alone and with friends, and solved each of these problems. Then my protagonist (heroine to you folks who just started writing five minutes ago) solved the murder in much the same way that her creator would do, by muddling through and refusing to give up.
This woman-of-a-certain age, with no job skills and no resources, finds herself a job, makes some quirky new friends and solves the murder. There’s also a touch of romance involved, just for fun.
Foolishly I thought the second in the series, THE CORPSE WHO WALKED IN THE DOOR, would be easier to write. After all, I had all of the characters, didn’t I? What a surprise to learn that writing a series brought problems of its own.
I’m now working on book three, titled THE CORPSE AND THE GEEZER BRIGADE, and I’m still struggling. As I said earlier, writing is hard. Sometimes I feel as if I’m walking uphill through almost-set concrete. Nonetheless, it’s what I love to do. And I know how lucky I am to be living my dream.
You should follow YOUR dream.