I’ve recently returned to social media with a vengeance and you might have noticed, because lately I’ve been writing quite a few posts inspired by events on other social media.
Mainly, the reason for this was that… well… Blogging really helps me when I have a lot to say.
Today is another one of these posts. Although a lot less angry because it wasn’t sparked by someone being an idiot.
This time, it was sparked by a lot of first time writers who are being (naturally) lacking in confidence or even down-right insecure. It might be a bit more direct, though, in the interest in helping the new kids see the light faster.
One of them got annoyed because her every writing question got answered by: “Write it first”, “Just write”‘s cousin.
Others commented that they also got annoyed by that answer, because it was a cop out. Instead of a “real answer” we veterans just pat new kids on the heads and tell them to write.
Honestly, I can’t say I blame them. But I do think the phrase is misunderstood.
So here I am, explaining my take on “Write it first” and “Just write”, real answer style:
1. This doesn’t encourage people to jump into a story unprepared.
There are plotters, pantsers and hybrids out there, and my telling people in general to just write the damn story isn’t a way to tell them all to become pantsers. It does, however mean that once you’ve start, that you should try your absolute best to finish that story. There are reasons not to finish a story. But you’ll know them by the fact that you’ll have a reason to shelf it without having to ask anyone else.
2. Just write = Suck it up and keep going.
We writers have three serious enemies that always fight our attempts to get writing done: fear, inner critics and inner censors.
If you’ve written past that initial thrill of new inspiration, you’ll know them well. What if I don’t have what it takes to write this story? I can’t possibly let that happen to my characters. This isn’t good enough. I shouldn’t want to be a writer. Who was I kidding?
They never go away. And no amount of other people telling you you’re good enough and that your story will come out fine will make them leave. The only way to beat them is to keep on writing regardless of what those voices say.
You’re welcome to complain about your doubts and insecurities, but all your true writer friends will tell you to
suck it up, buttercup keep writing. This is, in fact, the strongest encouragement we have. We can’t promise you that you’ll get a million dollar book deal. Or that you’ll even get a deal. But we can promise that you can finish a story. And that in itself is a huge accomplishment.
3. Stop over-thinking.
This is actually what got me into writing today’s post. I spent the past few weeks writing answers to questions like:
When is it okay to end a chapter?
What are the pros and cons of writing in first person?
I have this awesome idea about writing about this war people don’t really know about it, but I’m changing it into a spec fic. But is it a good idea?
And my current personal favorite: How do I avoid info dumps? How do I discretely disperse information throughout the story?
Oh and: What should I write to manipulate the maximum amount of readers into reading my book?
New kids, I love you. I really do. I do my utmost to give you the tools you need to get those stories written. But you’re never going to get that book done if you’re constantly worrying about doing things just right so other people (who you don’t even know) will think you’re an awesome writer.
Write until you feel the chapter is done.
There are no pros and cons to writing a certain way. Only ways of writing that do or don’t suit you.
If you love a story idea, it’s a good idea. Now go turn it into a book.
Avoid info dumps by either not writing them, or by writing them and cutting them out later. And then you discretely disperse information throughout your story. COME ON. YOU ALREADY KNEW THIS!!!
And for the love of all that is holy. Stop worrying about manipulating millions into reading your book. Firstly, writers have no power over readers until they’ve already decided to buy and read your book. If you think that writing a certain story in a certain way will win you readers, you’re wrong. If you’re writing, thinking that it’s the easy track to fame (as brought to my attention by your desire to manipulate millions into reading your book), you’re wrong. Seriously wrong. Not only that, you’re writing for the wrong reasons and therefore doomed to fail unless you change your thinking.
There is no one recipe for writing success. Only this: If you focus on your story and actually write what you love, in the way you love to write it, you’ll find at least some measure of success. Eventually. But know that money probably won’t be it. Face it. Love it. Write without worrying about it. Takes off a lot of pressure and makes writing a lot more fun.
If you can think of a best seller in our time, odds are there are a lot of people who didn’t think it would do well. Those books’ authors wrote them anyway.
Go you and do the same.
Perfection comes from editing anyway.
Writing veterans: what does “Just write” and “Write it first” mean when you use it?