The Most Important Piece of Advice

Once upon a time a young man took it upon himself to be a creator of worlds.  He wanted to translate the ideas in his head into a place people could see and hear and enjoy.  He didn’t care what form that dream took, only that it might one day come true.  He thought about video games, about animation, and finally one day…he thought about books.

He grew up immersed in stories.  His mother and father read to him when he couldn’t do so himself, he learned to read quickly and began to devour the kids section of the local library, and he ventured up to the adult section once he felt brave enough to tackle the  Star Wars novels in paperback.  Soon he moved to a new city with a much bigger library, and yet he read still.  So a novelist made perfect sense.  And while he was too poor for the tools to make games or animation, writing only took pencil, paper, and imagination–which meant he was set to begin.

Naturally, being a good student and a voracious reader, he soon discovered people had written books about how to write, and he snatched up every one of those he could find.  Books by screenwriters, books by novelists, books by men and women so steeped in their craft they skipped right into all the little tricks they’d discovered without stating the most blindingly obvious thing in the world.

It was many years later, with several years of schooling under his belt, and a ridiculous number of projects half-started and never finished, that he stumbled on an interview where he heard the piece of advice that set his whole writing paradigm on end and inspired him to begin this blog.  The speaker was Patrick Rothfuss–an author who had spent an absurd amount of time polishing his novel until it shone like silver–and the words rang truer than anything he could recall from the myriad how-to-write books he had read.

Live somewhere cheap.

There is only so much writing tricks can do.  Only so many short cuts you can take. Eventually you have to come to grips with the reality of what you are doing.  You are not creating a world out of aether and presenting it fully formed to an audience applauding you for a wonderful magic trick.  You are writing a three-hundred page essay, that requires the devotion of time accordingly.  So much time it takes from other things.  Your personal life, your sleep schedule, even your available hours to work.  It’s that important.  So, live somewhere cheap.  If you want to get that novel done, it’s going to take some sacrifice–and long hours in a chair, sitting in front of a computer and WRITING.

Consider National Novel Writing Month, a yearly challenge that dares the participants to write 50,000 words in a month.  Fifty thousand words is barely a novella.  But if you break it down, you realize how truly difficult the challenge is.  The month of November has thirty days and to reach the goal of 50,000 words you would have to write 1,667 words every day.  That’s more than five pages. Every day.  For an entire month.  The writing does not even have to be amazing, just that you write fifty thousand words of it.  I haven’t even lasted a week before fatigue set in and I gave up.

This is probably why I’m not a world famous author by now.

So where does that leave us?

Well, if it were easy, anyone could do it.  People think it’s easy, and so they start writing–only to discover it’s not, and suddenly they’ve doomed themselves to be one of those people eternally “working on their novel” or who just plain gave up on their dream before they could see it through.

If you’re one of those people, don’t worry.  I’m just as guilty.

But no more.

Now, together, we start on the journey of writing anew.  We know this won’t be easy.  We’ve tried this task before and failed, but that’s okay.  We know better now.  We’ll get it this time.  We’ll slay that dragon, win the day, and, by golly, kick that football clear to the moon.

In the coming posts you will find every dirty trick I’ve come across, borrowed, stolen or outright conceived when no one else has a better idea to help you get writing in a way that will eventually lead to an actual freaking manuscript.  But do not forget the most important thing.  This will take hours of time, this will take mental and physical effort, this will take sacrifices great and small.  But in the end, it will be worth it.

For you will have written something great, perhaps not good, but great all the same.  And no one can take that accomplishment from you.

 

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