Since I’ve recently discovered how much I enjoy writing fiction, I’ve been immersing myself in instructional material on the craft. It occurred to me today as I was listening to a podcast I should be writing that this might warrant a new category on my blog. Others might be interested in some of the many resources available for new wanna be authors. In addition to posting links and suggestions, I might occasionally write about some new revelation or lesson I learn. I’m not sure how much I can contribute at this point, so this category might not be that large.
So far I’ve only been practicing two things. From what I’ve gleaned so far, all the authors I’ve listened to agree they are the best things any budding author can do. You’re on the edge of your seat now. Aren’t you? I’ll be merciful and spare you any further ado. Here are the two wonderfully helpful nuggets of practicality of which I speak.
1. Write. Write. Write.
If you want to become a better writer, you have to actually start by practicing. You have to sit down every day and write something. It doesn’t have to be much. It doesn’t have to be great. But practice makes perfect. You’ll never get better if you never get started. Sorry for the string of cliche’s, but they’re cliche’s for a reason. It may seem like obvious advice, but there is a very real fear that the great idea you have in your head will be ruined once you write it down. At least that’s how I feel, and I’ve heard that many writers suffer from the same phobia. So just sit down and start writing something. Every. Single. Day.
2. Give yourself permission to write badly.
Let’s face it. If you’re just starting out like me, you aren’t going to be writing the Great American Novel any time soon. But if you worry too much about getting everything perfect the first time around, you end up stifling your creativity. You can always go back and edit later. And you’ll have to edit. Definitely.
Whether its a short story, novella, or full fledged book – you can pretty much guarantee that the first draft will be awful. Don’t believe me? Even Hemmingway said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” There’s something vaguely comforting in knowing that a Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature wrote crappy first drafts too. It kinda takes the pressure off. So why fight it? Let go of your inner editor for the first draft, and then get him out of jail later when you need his (or her) help.
Now that I’ve imparted the wisdom of the ages to you, I’m sure you’re prostrate with gratitude. So go lie down and recover your composure. I will grace you with my presence again at a later date.
Seriously, I’m a newbie myself. So what do I know? But these two simple pieces of advice come from people with much more experience and expertise than myself. They seemed to really help me, so I’m guessing they’ll help you too. Until next time practice writing, and may the force be with you!