Joe Brassey and I were occupying a corner at the Clang Kickstart Party last weekend and I was struck by a memory from a few years back of Joe and I standing on the fire escape outside our martial arts class taking a breather and discussing writing. Joe was an un-published writer aspiring to become an author and I was an author that had given up on writing, or at least on the idea of writing and publishing fiction. Yet here we stood, both of us now published and actively pursuing careers as writers. I shared this with Joe and after the mandatory fist-bump we agreed that life is funny that way.
I am continually running into people that tell me that they want to be a writer. I bite my tongue. I don’t say, “No, you don’t. If you wanted to be a writer you would be writing.” Because let’s face it, all it takes to be a writer is to write. That’s what writers do. I’ve known a lot of writers over the years and we pretty much can’t help ourselves. I sold a couple of short stories in the early nineties, but told myself I didn’t have the drive to be a writer. What really happened was that I had worked with people in publishing enough to see just how tough the game was and I got discouraged. So during the ten years that I was ‘not a writer’ I wrote online articles, magazine articles, a book about swords, automotive reviews, firearms reviews, political and social commentary etc. I probably wrote the equivalent of a novel or two a year… but I wasn’t a ‘real’ writer.
Then we got the chance to write for Foreworld. My wife and I co-authored ‘The Shield Maiden‘ on a somewhat compressed deadline, which got us used to writing every day and working together. We turned in the novella, heaved a sigh of relief and went about our lives. But within days I was ‘jonesing’ to get back to the keyboard and start writing again. I got started on a novel that I had been thinking about for a year or so and within a day Linda was saying, ‘I want in!’ Yeah, we had it bad… Now we write practically every day on one project or another, whether it be our second Foreworld Saga Side-Quest (no,it’s not a sequel to ‘The Shield Maiden’) or other future project.
The thing is, if you want to be a writer sooner or later you’re going to have to sit down and write. Then you will not merely want to be a writer, you’ll be one.
Set a daily goal for yourself. Start with a block of time and figure out how fast you write, then set a’words-per-day’goalbased on a realistic estimate of how much you can reasonably write. Then cut that in half and make that your daily goal. You want your goal to be attainable even when things go sideways on you. Mind you this word count is for new content; it should not include editing and re-writing.