Writing Stage: Baby Steps
So you've passed the conception stage where all the stars aligned, and the epiphany that you must either write or die has occurred, and now you wonder: Where the heck do I start?
Here are five ways, totally free, totally easy, to do just that: Begin.
And remember, even if you've been writing for years and have published hundreds of best-sellers, there is always a little death and rebirth in the life-cycle of a writer. Even more so when your books are no longer selling, your people are slow to respond to you, and you're seriously considering a genre or pen-name change. As a matter of fact, it happens sometimes, that an author's muse pushes her in a whole different direction, and although no one backs the idea, the author must ultimately follow her muse. An author at this point, no matter how much success she's had in the past, is right back here at this stage. So, with that, here is Part One of this Five Part Series:
Part A: Find a pen or a pencil and paper that is preferably bound (although scrap pieces of paper stapled together will make you look fabulously eco-chic when you're at step #5) As soon as you get that writing utensil and paper, sit down and write something. It doesn't matter what you write or how long you write for. You can write "I am writing. With a pen on a piece of paper that I pulled out of the recycling bin. This is stupid but this crazy chick on this blog Musings told me to do it and so I'm doing it..."
You follow my drift.
Now Part B-you must do this immediately! Find, or make, five more (or however many you need) of those little notebooks and gather up five more writing instruments and place one pair in every conceivable place where you spend time: Your purse. Your car's glovebox or console. Your gym bag. Your nightstand. The kitchen. Your Man Cave. The first bundle of pages that you've already written in should be kept where you spend your writing time, whether it be at your home office or your 9-5 office.
Now, initially you may not be comfortable writing at all these places. That's okay. Just think of those two items as your little friends, your little secret, if you must. Eventually, just knowing that they're there will get your creative juices flowing while suspended mid-air on the ellyptical; while you're pouring your cup of coffee; during a commercial break for This Old House; when you're laying in bed waiting for sleep to come. Soon enough, you will write in those little notebooks, and the first time you pull out your little notebook from your gym bag and sit down wrapped only in a towel, with your face still flushed from the sauna, and you write something, rather than feeling awkward or self-conscious, you'll feel a sort of rebellious excitement and most importantly, you'll feel proud. Those endorphins will kick in and soon enough you'll be wanting to feel them again: you'll be well on your way to having picked up one of the best habits every writer needs to have. The habit of jotting down ideas, of practicing and perfecting the art of connecting thoughts to paper.
I won't ask you to take only my word for it, listen to what these authors have to say about step #1:
“There is so much about the process of writing that is mysterious to me, but this one thing I’ve found to be true: writing begets writing.” – Dorianne Laux
“I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark.” -Henry David Thoreau.
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling (SEE??!! That endorphin thing?! I told you!!!)
“The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.” – Walt Whitman.
“A few places are especially conducive to inspiration – automobiles, church – public places. I plotted Couples almost entirely in church – little shivers and urgencies I would note down on the program, and carry down to the office Monday.” – John Updike
The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie
Are you writing yet?
Thanks to Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen whose blogpost 73 Writing Quips From Novelists, Authors, and Editors served to document proof for Step 1 (author quotes).