Just Start Writing!

I came across this advice from a writer named Alex De Campi, and it struck a chord with me, so I just had to share it. This is what she said:

“In any creative writing profession, there’s this burden of permissioning we put upon ourselves-you don’t believe you can just start writing. Hey, I’m telling you: You can. You don’t need to read a book or take a class or get an agent or get a pitch accepted before you’re officially a writer. Just go do the thing. Then do it again. And again.”

There you have it, folks. If you have a natural affinity for writing and would like to share your thoughts or stories with the world, there’s no one stopping you except yourself. If you’d like to write books, blogs, magazine articles, newspaper columns, or whatever, just start doing it. No one will hold you by the hand and help you to get started. Yes, you will get lots of guidance and a plethora of resources along the way (which you’ll certainly need), but when it comes to actually sitting down and figuratively getting your hands dirty with ink, it’s you and only you, who will have to make that first step.

Many fledging writers are scared and nervous to begin and that’s understandable. I myself was in that same boat riding those choppy waters before my first book. I worried whether I was good enough, whether I was qualified, whether people will take me seriously or if even want to read what I write.  

Despite all those fears, my desire to write was overwhelming. I had always been captivated by the power of prose and whenever I picked up pen and paper, it felt like I was creating my own bit of magic, the conjuror of my own world of words. I had written lots of poetry, a few short stories, had even written and directed a play in high school. But a book! I was both thrilled and terrified at the thought of starting that journey.

My favorite genre was mysteries and I wanted to write teenage fiction like the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books I had enjoyed as a young girl. Oh, but it was so difficult to get started! With a full-time job, two teenage children and so many other demands I had to fulfill, when would I find the time? Then I realized I had to make the time. I'd have to squeeze in an hour here and an hour there or I’d never get anywhere. So one eventful night, I closeted myself in the basement and started the first few lines of my book.

My initial draft was shaky and stormy and my plot so full of holes that I wanted to bury my aspirations as an author inside one of those holes and never let them see the light of day again. But I had come a far way and giving up was not an option. So I kept chipping away at my manuscript, determined to make it better. I knew that many other writers had gone through this very same rite of passage and if they had given up, the world would have been deprived of some really great writings and books.

If anyone asked me where I got the idea for the book, I will tell you honestly that I don’t know. I was definitely a pantser. The urban dictionary will tell you that a pantser is someone who fly by the seat of their pants when writing their book. They only have a basic idea of what they want it to be and they don’t work with an outline. The book could go anywhere or nowhere. Well, thankfully mine went somewhere. I was able to complete it two and a half years later.

But life is never free of challenges and roadblocks. I wish I could say that it was the beginning of a beautiful career after my first book came out but the truth is, it wasn’t. I’ve chronicled a bit of that story in my blog entitled, "How I Took the Treasure and Turned it into the Moon." In those intervening years when I stopped writing, I read as much as I could and became like a sponge soaking up the intricacies of the writing craft. This stood me in good stead when I eventually started to write again.   

So my message here is, for anyone who loves to write and especially for those who have a few book ideas bouncing around in their heads, don’t set limitations on yourself or let anyone do it for you. Start small but start somewhere. Your journey as an author begins with a single word. There’s space on the shelf for your work and if you don’t claim it, someone else will. Just. Start.Writing.    

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