Uncategorized, Writing Advice, Writing Life

Taking the First Step

In my life, I have known several would-be authors full of wonderful ideas for a novel, short-story, autobiography or screenplay. Several have joked that I should write it for them. Several more have remained bogged down by perfecting the outline, by real-world demands of work and family, or by only having the creativity to formulate ideas, but not the discipline and initiative to actually commit them to the page.

The difference between the idea-people and writers is really quite simple (and equally literal): a writer writes their ideas, wrangles with them, fights with them, carries the burden of them from the first page to the last page, whereas an idea-person is far more comfortable romanticizing their perfect brainchild, never testing whether or not that idea is something that can be practically accomplished.

I don’t say this to disparage idea-people. After all, every author was once among their ranks until the day came when they decided to take the first step towards manifesting their stories and plot conceits into actual, structured sentences. I say this to drive home the point that every worthwhile endeavor—be it writing a novel, making a friend, opening a business or getting your dream job—is achievable only through taking a risk, putting yourself out there (to include all of your fears and vulnerabilities), and applying diligence and determination to continuously practice and work towards your goals.

If you’re an idea-person who has always dreamed of writing your novel, but who has always managed to find excuses not to (I’m not good enough, I don’t have time, how do I know if it will even work how I envision it), challenge those excuses. You think you’re not good enough? How can you know that if you’ve never tried to write your stories down? If your first attempt didn’t turn out how you’d hoped, how do you know you can’t get there with more practice, building or joining a writing community, writing prompts, outside perspectives and research into the topics at hand?

You think you don’t have time? It’s far less inconvenient than you might think if you make small sacrifices: if you normally binge-watch the Food Network when you get home from work, try setting aside sacred time after your shower and before bed where you turn the TV off and get some words down. Anything is achievable if you find the routine that works best for you and your schedule. Some writers will tell you that you can never get anything done if you don’t write for at least an hour a day. With my work-schedule, I often can’t write at all until the weekends or until I have leave time. Despite my busy schedule, I still find time to write because a) it brings me joy and a sense of purpose to do so and b) I found the routine that works for me. Many writers have full-time jobs, families and other hobbies. Time is what you make of it, and it can only be managed and tamed if you plan ahead and take advantage of every minute you have.

If you’re one of those idea-people who is still daunted by the prospect of ever bringing your dreams to fruition, you may find comfort in knowing that every author started out in the same place—doubting that they were worthy vessels for their stories, worrying after the hundredth rejection letter that they would never be proficient enough at their craft to do their story justice, questioning whether the hours dedicated to their project were worth it. If you have the inner drive and passion to tell stories, these fears and self-doubts may persist, but your sense of purpose will propel you to continue working at it no matter what odds are against you. And while the first step is the hardest to take, it’s the step that turns dreamers into writers.

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