Write Wrong 2: Get Started

The Beginnings Are Almost the Hardest Part, (other than everything else.)

Welcome back!

Let’s recap:

You want to write, but don’t because of self-doubt/criticism/fear/so many voices calling you a phony.

My input on it? Don’t give up, it’s going to suck regardless. The good news though is that eventually? It won’t suck.

And by it, I don’t mean the next time you write something. I mean this thing that you want to write right now. Eventually it’ll suck less than it will at first.  Accept that you will not make a perfect thing on your first pass.

You will make a thing that requires lots of nurturing and discipline, and sometimes a lot of tough love.

Let’s play a quick game called “Why aren’t you writing right now?”

I’ll go first.

I’m not writing my next book because I’ve got a million great ideas already, and when I’m ready to write it, I’m going to blow my mind with how the words paint pictures and tell stories that are going to be incredible. I’m just not doing that right now because… 

I’ll spare you the rest.

Am I ready to write that book? Hell no I’m not. Will I ever be ready to write that book? Hell no I will not, so I don’t write it.

Now it’s your turn.

Why aren’t you writing right now?

Is my blog is so amazing, so intriguing that you can’t pull yourself away to write? If so, your answer is better than mine, I’ll give you that, but it’s still no good. Is there ever a good excuse not to write? Of course. Just like there’s a good excuse not to eat pizza or binge-watch tv shows. And yet, I can swan-dive into a project like that, any time.

Let your writing become an obsession instead of an obligation. Stop worrying about vague cliches that do little to move your story along. Who cares if your characters are as thin as toilet paper and lack conflict? You’ll get them there, I promise. But first, you need to create them. Go ahead and write sloppy words that don’t care about the mess. Your second and twelfth passes will clean things up.

In November of 2012, I signed up for NanoWrimo, a national writing challenge to write 50K words in thirty days, and I hit the goal.

I wrote a terrible story called Invasion of the Bootysnatchers. I wrote it by doing a little preparation, and a lot of sitting down and writing. What were my excuses when I wasn’t writing? I didn’t have any because I think I wrote every day, thrilled that I was accomplishing something, even if it was just poking enough keys on a computer to stay on target. Some days, what I wrote wasn’t as important as how much I wrote. By the time I’d hit fifteen-thousand words, I’ll be damned if I was going to give up without having something to show for my effort.

I wrote fifty thousand words because there was a deadline, I was thrilled to be writing, and accepted that the book might not break one million sales because it wasn’t as good as it could’ve been.

Was it any good?

I couldn’t tell you. I don’t think I’ve read the entire thing since I wrote it. There’s parts I remember, and there’s  vast oceans of words that I couldn’t tell you what the hell was going on. Having said that, did I share it with people? You bet your sweet ass I did. Because it was amazing.

It was amazing that I finished it.

The following year, I participated in Nano again, and that time, I also completed it. That book just got published on amazon.com. Pretty great yeah? So, it took two attempts at writing to spit out a book worth publishing, right?

Wrong.

Do the math. In November, 2013, I wrote my second fifty-thousand word manuscript. Almost two years later, the book was published. So, then, it takes two years to publish a book?

For me it did.

Because I wrote wrong, and then spent another eighteen months revising it, shaping the story and the characters, and rewriting and rewriting. But without that first draft, there’d be nothing.

(BTW, I’m sure I could write the third novel in less time. That’s the whole purpose of this blog, distilling my two-year process down, finding a better way to get there.)

There is  an incredible rush when creating something that you believe in. You imagine that it’s going to be great,  you take bigger risks and go deeper into that creative well to pull something out of you that will certainly redefine the craft of writing. Sure, it’s delusional, but that feeling kept me going.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t written that third manuscript yet. I can’t get excited about it because I know it’s going to suck at first. Sure, I’ll revise it, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in writing and revising a book into publication, it’s that writing RIGHT takes a lot longer than writing wrong. But you can’t write right initially.

Or at least I know I can’t, so I don’t because it won’t be great.

I spend more time dissecting the few ideas I have written instead of pushing on through to find out what happens next.

And that’s the most important thing when writing stories: what happens next.

My favorite writers are the ones who get out of the way while telling a great story.

And that takes work.

Dammit, I’m rambling again.

Here’s my point, if there is one to be had from this post.

Write. Ignore your self-critic, the one that says, “you can do better, start again!” Don’t worry about how good you do it initially. You can come back later and dot the eyes and cross the tease.

As long as you know it’s going to suck at first, you allow yourself to write, even if it’s wrong. You’ll have plenty of time to fix it later.

I think I’m going in circles at this point. Next week, we’ll focus on why there are rules for writing, and how you can ignore them because you’re a rebel that don’t need no stinking rules.