Saturday, March 7, 2009


If you're hesitating to write your first novel because the task seems too daunting, wait a second. Everything else you were determined to do got done. You got through all those other tough phases: school, the first job, advance studies, not to mention the first time you ventured out of your comfort zone and did something totally out of character. You know what I'm talking about.

Too often wanabee writers tell me they're going to write a book. Years pass. When I run into them again, their excuse is there's no time to write, or life got in the way. Or they plan on starting as soon as ....

When I hear that I recognize that the desire and the need is separate.

If you're of the second following: you need to write but you're afraid of what it will take, here's a secret. No one who writes a novel didn't feel the way you do at this precise moment. The difference is they took that first step. Either they sat down with a piece of paper, a keybroad or whatever and wrote the first paragraph. They just did it. Maybe they didn't schedule it in, or make a pact. They let it happen.

If your desire to write is more of a need to express yourself, let it happen. Dont't slow down the process by giving it much thought. You don't need to contemplate the consequences. You sit down at your computer, open a new page in your processor, and start typing.

You can go the library route and read every self-help book you can. (That's not to say this isn't a good idea after you have your first draft completed) You can even do a search on the best How to Write a Novel books. You can take a class. Find an author who will mentor you. But in the end, they'll all say the same thing: write.

"I have this excellent idea for a book." I wouldn't even venture to guess how many times I've heard that.

What separates the above statement from someone who takes the next step? I don't really care. We spend too much time giving credence to those who are brave enough to move on. Don't write a novel because you want me to believe you're not talking through your hat. Write to satisfy the need to express yourself. Do you think a painter spends his life saying, "One day I'm going to paint a picture" ? Not likely.

It doesn't even have to be good writing. That will come in time through edits, revisions and rewrites. The real question is, do you continue to ignore the need or do you finally succumb to the sheer joy obtainable through the simple act of writing?

Please allow some joy in your life. Take that step and start writing.

* Unless you absolutely have to, never show your first draft to anyone *


  1. A great bit of advice - thanks for encouraging "the joy!"

  2. Hi Marty! Glad to hear from you. You've been quiet, so I'm assuming that means major writing, eh? Good for you.

  3. you're right about not showing a first draft to anyone. i made that mistake twice. But never again.

  4. I showed the 1st draft to only 2 folks - comments were positive & suggestions were helpful. Would I do it again? I dunno.

    Writing just 'started' - I didn't plan to write a book. It was after I finished writing chapter 6 (funny) where I decided, 'this is something I really WANT to do.' The book became a reality more than a year later.

    Have a great Sunday - What does Metis (sp?) mean?

  5. Hi Dave. I think as you become more experienced, your first draft are tighter. But new writers can be so easily distraught over readers' reactions that it's probably not a good idea to share that early draft.

    Metis with an accent over the e, pronounced ma'tes is a person of mixed Indian and European ancestry. They originate around the Red River in Manitoba. The first were Scots and Blackfoot, I think. Now most people think French and Native.

  6. You're bang on, Joylene. Those who need to write always will; those who want to often won't unless they receive encouragement.

    Writing a novel is daunting unless the author has first proved to himself that he can successfully craft shorter works. But it's an unfortunate reality that the beginning writers of short stories and articles are often the ones who seek reassurance and approval of their efforts from others, and they're the ones most vulnerable to discouragement from negative criticism.

    I like the Nike motto: "Just do it!" Make a start; savour the headiness of achievement.

    (BTW, the daughter we lost was Metis... Cree and French.)

  7. Great advice Joy. I think one of the reasons I write, is because I love it. I would rather write than eat, well most of the time. People say to me all the time,"I don't know how to start." My reponse to them is, "just do it". If you want to write a book, don't watch tv, sit at your computer, pick up a pen or whatever medium you use. Don't wait for "something" to happen, like a starting bell. Just do it!
    Great blog


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