Here it is… are you ready for this? It’s earth-shattering, folks… you might want to sit down.
The one simple step to writing is this:
Yes, friends… that is quite literally it. I’ve spent the past several weeks in search of tips and tricks and helpful hints on how to move beyond the writer’s funk I’ve been in, and I’ve learned something invaluable: It’s easier to write about writing than to actually write.
Which is funny, really, because if you think about it… right now, I’m writing about writing, which means I’m writing, right?
Many times, in a funk, I find myself writing about my writing. One of my long-term projects is a collection of stories based on the wild tales of some local men who frequent my Saturday morning coffee place. I have found it extremely difficult to capture their tone in my writing, or to fit together pieces to make a coherent story, and so it happens that many times I’ll listen to them talking and I’ll fill several pages of my notebook with ramblings about their character, their behavior, their mannerisms, their one-liners, knowing that none of it is actually advancing the writing itself.
Except that it is.
Writers, every word you ink, every blog post, every frivolous and unusable poem (I once wrote a poem that began, “Sniffle, sniffle, runny nose — this happens every time it snows!”) is advancing your writing. Do I think all writing should take the form of blogs and stupid poems? Of course not. I hope you challenge yourself to write more than what is easy. But for a writer, each time you sit down and piece words together, you are practicing your craft. You are learning what your voice sounds like, and more importantly, what your voice doesn’t sound like. You are becoming a writer. You are finding form and rhythm and flow that will sneak up on you when you sit down to work on your project.
And please, for all things holy, don’t be so hard on yourself. Writer, I hereby challenge you to give yourself some grace! Be kind to yourself! Writing is somehow both simple and complicated, so give yourself the time and space to do it without having to do it perfectly. In fact, try not to be perfect. Perfect writing is dull. It is fake. It lacks that thing we crave when we read — that human connection. And remember — you can edit a terrible piece of writing. You cannot edit what you don’t write.
So that’s it, friends. There is no trick to writing. You either write or you don’t. What distinguishes a writer from every other person on the planet who dreams of making it to the best-seller list is one thing: A writer writes. It’s as simple as that.
Now… stop reading my blog and go write something. Let me know how it goes!
From the shores of Wicket Lake,