Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Secret of Writing

Every successful author who writes about the art and craft of writing will tell you the secret. If you want to be a writer, you only have to do one thing. You have to write.

I know. It sounds easy. It’s even easier to respond; “I know how to write. What’s next?”

But that’s just it…there is no “What’s next?” That’s all there is. When you start writing, I mean putting your fingers to the keyboard everyday and pumping out 1,000-2,000 words, the rest just comes naturally. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Maybe you don’t know what to write about. I would make a suggestion. Start with 20-minute writing exercises. Again, I’m not kidding. Start a timer for 20 minutes and turn it on when you start writing.

There are several good books and websites that will give you ideas to write about. A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves and The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron are just two examples. If you can’t afford those (yet), then here are a few ideas to get you started:

- Write about a time at the carnival

- Write about a pet

- Write using “Why does it always have to be about the money?” as the first line of your story.

- Write about your first dental experience (or any dental experience).

- Or just step outside and write about something you see. Or get on a bus. Or eat in a restaurant. Or go to a sports game. Or visit a hospital. Or a church. Or a Nursing Home. You get the idea.

The point is, you don’t need the theme for the next great American novel to start writing. You just need to write. And if you want to get down to it, it’s not a great idea that makes a great story. It’s all the details that an author interweaves to make a good story. The “great idea” is only a catalyst, a backdrop for a story driven by characters and the reader’s love for those characters.

So, what’s the secret to writing. The secret is nothing more than to start putting words down on paper (or typing them into a computer). Being a writer is nothing more than writing. If you’re not actually writing, then you're actually not a writer.

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