“Hey, you’re a writer, I want to be a writer, how’d you do it?”
When it comes up in conversation what I do, that (or some variation of it) is the response I get at least seventy percent of the time (I’m convinced the other thirty percent already are writers and are just playing it on the down-low).
Still, it’s a fair question. And sometimes I’m tempted to recite my version of the apocryphal tale of the Famous Author and the College Lecture as a response.
As I’ve heard it, The author arrived inebriated and stumbled on stage to the podium, where he faced a room full of bright eager young students waiting to hear the secrets he would unlock for them.
He looked at them all unsteadily, then stared at the group for a minute before asking, “Who here in this room wants to be a writer?”
Nearly every hand in the audience shot skyward with enthusiasm.
“Right. So what the hell are you doing in here? You should be out there, writing.” The old author turned, in some versions drops the microphone, and leaves the building.
The point is simple. Writers write.
But writers also use tools. So I’ll around here, sooner or later, I’ll list some of the tools I use, in hopes you might find them useful. Or not. Remember, everyone has their own journey, and if anyone tells you there is a single “perfect way” to do something, chances are they don’t care about your success, only about selling you something.
But tool number one rests between your ears. Your brain. Cultivate that. It is the source of ideas, your words, your prose. Use it, teach it, nurture. Feed it a steady diet of munchy, crunchy words, and it will give you back some as well. You may think what you write is rubbish at first. Guess what? At first, it probably will be.
But then again, when you first were learning to handwrite, I bet those letters looked pretty funky. I bet your first driving lessons were an adventure.
I bet your first driving lessons were an adventure.
I bet the first kiss was tres awkward.
As the Billy Joel song says, “You’re only human, you’re supposed to make mistakes.” You make them, you learn from them, you make better mistakes. Eventually, you string together something that you look back at and say, “Hey, that’s pretty good.” Something you don’t cringe at.
I suggest you build a habit. 1000 words a day. Can be on anything. Your latest magnum opus. A blog post about candy colored ponies and box office potential. A screed about the unfairness of electoral college politics. But write every day. Make it a habit. Once you do, the ideas will flow, and it becomes second nature to get into your rhythm as a writer.
Take the advice, or chart your own path. Find what works for you. Hundreds of books out there, waiting for you to read on how to. Websites, and more, chock full o’ info and notes. Everything you could ever want…
Now all you have to do is put your fingers on a keyboard and actually write.
Congratulations. Welcome to Write Club.