As the saying goes, “If it was easy, everyone would do it,” and when we start making friends with other writers it feels like everyone is doing it.
Just finding the time to sit with our thoughts long enough to commit something to paper (or screen) is a challenge in this busy world.
But, we’ve got a story.
We have this idea that won’t let go. So we sit and write.
“Of any activity you do, ask yourself: If I was the last person on earth, would I still do it?” Steven Pressfield
Flash forward a few months or years. We’ve invested the time, spent hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hours hunched over a notebook or a keyboard. Typed “The End.” (A few people have suggested that we don’t type “The End”. Okay, so it’s implied.)
We print it out, ask a friend or trusted family member to read it. Or not. Must be careful with it. It’s our baby.
We secretly suspect this is the best book ever written…
Your book will make a difference, we say. If I can just get an agent. The right agent. And the publishing deal. A great publishing deal. With an enormous advance. If we can get this life-changing book into the hands of readers, everything will change.
It’s true. The book you write will change the world.
When your manuscript is finished, you will be a completely different person to the one who started writing.
Creative pursuits have a way of changing you. You start out as a person with an idea and a passion. As you write, ten minutes a day, twenty minutes a day, you become the kind of person who makes time every day to sit down and write. The people around you might think it’s odd at first. Maybe there will be some gentle jokes at your expense. “The next JK Rowling, eh?” Maybe. They’ll get used to it.
By sitting every day, or most days, to write, you develop a practice. Passion brings you to the page but only devotion keeps you there day after day. You could pay a ghost-writer, but if you really want to change the world, your world, writing the book will do it.
Think process, not product.
So, get writing. Stephen King says our first million words are rubbish anyway, so you might as well get it over with.
Read. Do classes. Get your ten thousand hours under your belt. Then keep writing.
Start a blog, a podcast, make Facebook Live or TikTok videos of you reading from your work.
Have fun with it. If you don’t, who will?
On that note, I offer one more suggestion to you, my fellow writer.
Those who talk about the 10,000 hours seem to forget that Gladwell also recommends we rack up about double that in time away from our passion to let the lessons marinate. Be passionate, be devoted, but please enjoy the writing journey.
As overused as that word is, ‘journey’ is the right word to use because this writing life is a voyage into the unknown and, like any great voyage, the experience will change you.
Christine Betts – Contributor
Christine Betts is an Australian writer who left her heart in Paris years ago. She can usually be found at the beach or sitting at a cafe, pen in hand. Her long-time internet handle, WriterPainter, is also the name of her blog on creativity, writing, art, meditation, and spirituality. She believes everyone is creative, and it is through our act of creating that we find our purpose and meaning in life.