Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to be a Writer: A-Z Challenge

My themes for this year’s A-Z challenge are writing, the writer’s life, and living in the creative flow.

When non-writers in my life ask the question, “How do you do it?” and they are referring to the books I’ve written and I’m writing and not to my immaculately clean home (just kidding, my whole house is never all clean at the same time) I often spout a litany of “hows” that I’m just now realizing, only boil down to one simple way.

How to be a writer of fiction:

Think of a character, in a setting, that wants something they can’t have, sit down with a writing instrument and write that story.

Now sure, there are many aspects about writing well that you need to learn before you can write a good, comprehensible story. But even without all that craft and understanding of narrative structure, pretty much anyone can sit down and write a story about a person that wants something they can’t yet have.

Here’s the thing, many writers that do know, and are able to, craft a good and comprehensible story get hung up by one simple thing.

It’s that sitting down and writing the story.

Showing up.

Shutting up.

Blocking out.

Turning off.

Focusing on their story long enough and for enough days in a row to take all they’ve learned over the years and apply it to an actual story.

So how do I do it?

When I’m writing it’s more about what I don’t do:

Go out with friends
Allow or invite distractions of any kind

Some writers reject the simplicity of this because they resist letting these things go long enough to get to their work. They don’t have to risk that blank page, judgment, potentially feeling like a huge failure if they are always “too busy” to get around to writing in the first place.

And I understand that this resistance is fear based. I have experienced this fear too. But I’m much more afraid of being 90 and looking back with regret instead of shelves and shelves of books that I had the courage to show up for.

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