Since it’s shortly after the release of my first book, I’ve been thinking of
the start of this journey. I’d known since I was twelve that I wanted to be a
writer, but it took me almost twenty years to start writing. Why did I wait so
long? Here were the biggest things that held me back.
Excuse #1: I need to take classes/go to a conference before I can write a novel.
Wow, that kept me from trying for over ten years! The truth is while classes
and conferences are helpful, they aren’t necessary. Now, I’m not recommending
skipping college or thumbing your nose at literary courses, but don’t let that
be a stumbling block in your path to writing a novel. Do you read a lot? Are
you a (reasonably) good speller? Are you willing to take constructive criticism
and revise when necessary? Then you can do this.
Excuse #2: But I don’t know HOW to write a novel.
I used this one far longer than I want to admit. When I repeated it a several
years ago to a writer friend of mine, she just smiled and said, “Then read a
book on writing, dear.” Guess what? That worked! There are many great, useful
books aimed at helping new authors get started. While there is, sadly,
no “‘magic formula” for writing, there are lots of steps you can learn just
from browsing one of these books. I read WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by
Donald Maass, and WORLDS OF WONDER by David Gerrold, but
go to your local book store and see which ones are best suited to you.
Excuse #3: I don’t have time to write.
Many famous authors have discussed how they squeezed writing into their lives
before they were able to quit their day jobs. Sharon Sala wrote her first novel
while working full time, raising three children, and tending to a farm. Mary Higgins Clark was widowed with five children and worked a full-time job when she
wrote her first novel. Bottom line: if you don’t make writing a priority, no
one else in your life will, either. Sure, the more responsibilities you have,
the longer it may take you to finish that first book, but you CAN get it done.
Excuse #4: I know any book I write will be terrible, so why bother?
This may have been the hardest thing for me to get over. Eventually I decided I
was going to write regardless. When I started my novel, I did it with the
intention that it would never see the light of day. This was very freeing,
because I wrote for me, and when I finished that first book, I was – gasp –
proud of myself. Was the book terrible? Um, yeah! But the very process of
writing was a learning experience, and I started the next book right after.
When I was almost done with that, I went back to my first book and began the
first of many revisions. By then, of course, I was hooked on writing and knew
I’d keep doing it even if I never sold a single word. I still have that
opinion. If I never sell another book, you’ll still find me smacking away at my
keyboard, because this is what I love.
Excuse #5: I’ll start my novel – later.
Later can turn into never a lot faster than you realize. Speaking from my own
experience, once I started writing, I regretted letting my excuses hold me
hostage for as long as they did.
So for anyone out there with the desire to write, but with fear and
procrastination standing in your way…haven’t you waited long enough? Get to a
keyboard! Don’t let the stories just sit in your head. It is a tough road, but
it’s well worth it.
I’m extremely thrilled to say my first novel, HALFWAY TO THE
GRAVE, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as the
USA Today list. Dreams still can come true in publishing for new
authors. I’m proof of that 🙂