Reality of Writing

Hey, gang! I’m over at Pop Culture Divas today talking about Today’s Blockbusters, Tomorrow’s Classics. Stop on by and add your two cents worth! 🙂

I posted this on RomErotica a couple of weeks ago, but thought I’d post it again. This may be a repeat for some of you and I do apologize but I was up super late last night editing and getting caught up on Lost.

I get funny reactions from people when I tell them I’m a published author. Everything from “I’ve always wanted to write a book” to “Since you write romance, are the sex scenes from your own life experiences?” Yeah, that last one was a bit of a shock. I think the most common one, though, is the I’ve-Always-Wanted-To-Write-Syndrome. For the purposes of space and this post and my fingers, I’ll call it The Syndrome.

The Syndrome doesn’t care what race you are or how old you are. It doesn’t care how much money you make or what kind of car you drive. It doesn’t care if your house is 1200 square feet or 3200 square feet. I’ve had people from the age of 12 to 60 tell me they’ve always wanted to write a book. And my response back to them is always, “So why don’t you?”

They shrug and give me some lame excuse as to why they can’t or won’t.

I’m too busy.

I have a full time job.

I don’t know where to start.

Let’s take a moment to dissect all three of these, shall we?

The I’m-Too-Busy Excuse. The simple fact is you’re not. Are you too busy to watch 23408 hours of shows on your DVR? Are you too busy to spend hours upon hours of playing on MySpace/Facebook/Twitter? This is merely a cop-out in my book (no pun intended).

I used to watch about six hour-long shows a season. And then came the mid-season replacements and the summer replacements. And then I got addicted to HGTV and the Food Network. I found I was spending more time in front of the TV doing nothing than anything else. I cut my TV time down to three shows: Lost, Gray’s Anatomy and Legends of the Seeker. That’s it. And they’re all recorded on the DVR and when I have time, I catch up.

If you cut back on your TV watching or any other time-suckage activity, then you can find an hour or so a day to sit down and start writing really bad prose. Because, trust me, when you first start it will be really bad (but don’t let that discourage you…more on that later).

I’m not saying you should ignore your kids or spouse, the laundry, or any other important household/domestic chore that needs attention. I’m saying if there’s a will, there’s a way. You can make the time to write.

The I-Have-A-Full-Time-Job-Excuse. Here’s a nugget of information for you – most writers have a full time job. Some of us, Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, Stephen King, et al. excluded, have responsibilities like a mortgage and a car payment and therefore cannot quit our full time job that pays the bills to write full time. (Unless, of course, we have an independently wealthy spouse and then go for it.) Because, regardless of what anyone tells you, just because you make that first sale doesn’t mean you’ll be making a six figure advance giving you ample time to sip champagne and eat bon-bons.

No, what it instead means is that you have to get through your edits. Despite the fact you sold your novel and your editor loves it, you will have edits to do. And, really, your editor is only trying to make your book even better than what it was when you submitted.

And then comes the promotional portion. You’ve sold, you’ve edited, it’s perfect and ready for publication. But now you have to get your name out there, buy advertising, do a blog-tour. If you’re lucky and your publisher has a budget for marketing, then you’ll get some help in that area. If you’re with a small press, it’s basically up to you to do all the legwork. It’s not just sitting back and earning royalties. If you don’t get your name out there, you won’t have any royalties.

Most of us with full time jobs still find time to write and do all of the above (as well as a myriad of other writing-related things). It goes hand-in-hand with the previous excuse – you make time. No matter what. If you really want to do it and have the drive to do it, you find the time.

The I-Don’t-Know-Where-To-Start Excuse. So you’ve made the commitment to yourself to start writing. You’re driven. You’re full of determination. You want to do it! You sit down at the computer…and face a blank screen with a blinking cursor. Now what? You don’t know where to begin. You have no idea.

Keep it simple. Set a word count goal and aim for it. Do you have characters talking in your head? Write their dialogue. Is there a certain setting you want to write about? Start writing a scene in it. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it won’t be. This is the time to make mistakes and learn from them. This is the time to find a great critique partner and learn find out what works, what doesn’t. The most important thing is to just start writing and if it sucks, throw it out and start something new.

Read. Read a lot. Never stop reading. Read things you wouldn’t normally pick up. Read your favorite authors and dissect their stories from start to finish. Ask yourself what you liked and why. What did they do well? What resonated with you? What drew you to the story and why? Likewise with reading something you didn’t like. Ask yourself all the same questions.

Every time you write, you get better. After all, you wouldn’t expect to sit down at the piano for the first time and play like a concert pianist, would you? No. It takes practice. Writing is like that. It’s practice, perseverance, a little bit of luck and a whole lot of determination. (And maybe some blood, sweat and tears thrown in for good measure.)

If you want to write, and you can get out of your own way, you can do it. I have all the faith in the world you can.

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.