Okay, so the quote is not so great since it doesn’t tell you what you want to know. It’s definitely not great when you’re staring at that blank computer screen, unsure or terrified to even start typing. Sometimes, you picture the story perfectly in your head, but your fingers don’t translate the words correctly onto the page.
All these scenarios can be both frustrating and disheartening.
Actually, there are three rules to writing a novel, a short story, or anything else for that matter…
Time, patience and practice.
Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know you want the magic secret to make writing easy-peasy, but it does not exist.
Writing requires work. You must produce. And not just one piece. You have to write over and over again — with different stories. It takes good ol’ fashioned, hard work to make your literary dreams come true.
Let’s explore these three rules in more detail.
1. Time Will Tell
Years ago, I read a wonderful book called Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd. It’s a practical course in career design for artists, innovators and others aspiring to a creative life. She said, “Your life is time. How you spend your time is how you spend your life.”
The time you spend writing each week tells the world how serious you are about your craft. Do not wait for inspiration like I used to do. It got me nowhere.
I changed my attitude and actions in 2000, while I was home on maternity leave from a full-time job, with a husband, a three-year-old daughter, and a newborn son. That’s when I started writing EVERY DAY.
It was poor timing in many ways, but I saw my life wasn’t going to be mine again for at least another eighteen years. I couldn’t wait that long to finish my novel. Those words were burning in my heart NOW.
We’re all busy. Everyone has a long list of To Do’s, but most everyone can squeeze out twenty minutes a day. Write a quick scene one day, then polish it the next. Repeat the process over and over to have a new chapter each week of a novel, short story, screenplay, etc.
Try it for one month, and I’ll bet you want to write more time for your words.
2. Patience is a Virtue
I hate that proverb. I’m a kick-ass and take names kinda gal. I do not naturally possess the ability to wait without excessive frustration for something I want now.
Let me give you a real-world example. Let’s say, oh…publication?!
I’ve had patience crammed down my throat in that regard. I’ve had no choice but to learn both poise and perseverance, which has made me stronger.
If you are going to publish, especially if you want to traditionally publish, then you must learn the waiting game. An agent says your manuscript is ‘next’ on her reading list, then responds six months later, if at all. Editors leave their publishing houses and your manuscript gets lost in the shuffle. Publishing all but shuts down for the holidays.
For almost twenty years now, I have written to get my novels published. I’ve won awards for short-stories, wrote a screenplay, and have been paid for countless magazine articles.
Some would say since my novels are still unpublished that must mean they are not very good.
I disagree. My last two books are good. Good enough to be published. They will be someday, either traditionally, or through Marcy, Inc.
I feel deep in my bones that the answer will come to me this year about the right publication path for me.
After waiting this long, what’s twelve more months? Meanwhile, I want to concentrate on Mudpie Writing.
3. Practice Makes Progress
Ahh, this rule is the most important one of all.
Talking about writing is not writing.
Thinking about writing is not writing.
Reading is not writing.
All these tasks are important, but only writing is writing. The more you write, the better you become.
Butt in chair, fingers tapping away at your keyboard, or scribbling away onto pages. Writing success comes from the habit of writing. Habits take practice.
If you want to be published, then you must be sharing your work with others. Find those who understand writing, or better yet, are doing so themselves. That way, everyone has something at stake.
I have to admit lack of practice concerns me about many writers. They seem much more concerned about publication or building their author platform than with the craft of writing.
It doesn’t matter if you have 200,000 active Twitter followers if you can’t write a story worth reading, or aren’t writing at all.
Time, patience and practice are the rules for writing success. It’s so easy, yet still so hard.
Are you willing to do the work?
Which rules (time, patience or practice) do you need to work on most to improve your writing?
Please leave a comment. I’d love to chat.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.