A post for the ‘one day’ writers, with love.

This blog is for all the writers out there—or should I say, all the would-be writers who are more dedicated to finding reasons why they can’t write rather than just getting on with it (you know who you are)!

Much like childbirth, there is no ‘right time’ to start your writing journey. There is no ‘perfect’ set of circumstances, no ‘correct’ way to do it, and you’ll never be ‘ready’.

What is stopping you is fear. Fear of not ‘getting it right’, fear of rejection, and fear of ridicule on a small or grand scale (if you really fear ridicule, may I suggest not plagiarizing anything in the age of internet search engines?). For some, this fear is so crippling that they never write…or they write, then they stick it in a back drawer where it never sees the light of day until after their death, when a relative finds it and dumps it in the garbage.

In my mind, being a writer is 49.5% courage, 49.5% persistence and about 1% talent, if that. It has 0% to do with luck or contacts (N.B. unless you’re Stephenie Meyer, who apparently wrote her first book and found a publisher all within six months. I hate her a little bit. However, this is the exception, not the rule.)

Here are a few tips:

  1. Do a Nike: stop thinking about it and just do it. If you spend your time over thinking it, or trying to plan it all out to the nth degree before you even start, you will never get going. Just sit down and write and see what happens. I’m not sure who said this quotable quote, but it’s a good one: ‘You can always edit bad words. You can’t edit NO words.’ True dat.
  2. Write for yourself and no-one else. If you write worried about what critics, readers, friends or family will think, then you will lose the joy in the work and no-one will read it. Don’t set out to write the best book ever written; instead, write something you’d enjoy reading. Your result will be authentic and this will come across to the reader.
  3. You will get rejected. You WILL. Come to terms with that now (go on, off you go!). Ready? Ok. Finding an agent and/or a publisher is a numbers game. Get a rejection, have a little cry (or, if you’re like me, have a big old snotty cry) and then send out more queries. Many, many queries.
  4. I cannot recommend manuscript assessment highly enough. These services review your manuscript like a publisher would and give you feedback, but you haven’t burnt any bridges in the process. Along this vein, please get your manuscript professionally edited before you send it out, too. While you may think your first draft is brilliant, it’s really not. Finish it, and then set it aside for at least a month, so you can come back to it with a fresh perspective. Do this a few times. Then send it off to a manuscript assessment service (Google it, there are plenty around).
  5. You do not need a degree from an upper-crust university or college to become a writer, just a love of words and a good imagination—very few published writers actually thought they were ‘good enough’ before they started.
  6. Don’t expect to get rich; you are unlikely to be the next J.K. There are far easier ways to get rich than writing—like salt mining or brain surgery.
  7. No matter how good your book is, someone, somewhere, will think it’s the biggest load of crap they’ve ever read and won’t be shy about telling you just that. You can’t please everyone.

Don’t squander your life playing it safe, then look back with regret on your deathbed wishing you had taken a chance. Sit down and write something–immediately!

I’ll leave you with the best quote I’ve ever heard in my life:

‘Most people tiptoe through life hoping to reach death safely.’

Fuck that! Now go for it!

Don’t make yourself a victim to events in your life–take back your power!

One of the things that particularly strikes me as I carry on with my journey, is the prevalence of people in all sections of society who make themselves powerless in their own lives.

It’s easy to do. I spent the first 30 years of my life doing this exact thing. We’ve all played the blame game, you know: ‘if my parents hadn’t divorced I would be in a loving relationship’, ‘if my lover would just be/do/give me this, I would be happy’, ‘if I’d finished school, I could get a job’, ‘if I could just buy that home/handbag/shoes/car my life would be complete’, etc, etc.

Many people are totally convinced that if so-and-so hadn’t done such-and-such to them, their life would be totally different. And, of course, better. And so they carry this ‘victimhood’ around like luggage for the rest of their lives. I liken it to carrying a suitcase full of your winter clothes on a tropical vacation—a pointless waste of time and energy.

When it comes right down to it, this kind of perceived powerlessness is rooted in fear. After all, if we didn’t have any imagined limitations holding us back, then we suddenly become responsible for our own lives. Scary! If we didn’t have people/situations holding us back, we might actually have to try! And if we try, and then fail, that would be horrible! We would be labeled a failure! What will people think of us? Ack!

So many people choose to live a half-life, deeply mired in their imagined limitations because it feels a lot safer than the alternative.

But here’s the thing, our journey in this life is our responsibility and ours alone. No-one and nothing else is responsible for your life and your perceived lack of happiness.

And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the last few years, it’s that there is nothing we can’t achieve if we believe in ourselves and are prepared to put in the effort to get it.

This took me a really long time to learn.

Life is a series of choices that are ours to make. No one can do anything to you if you don’t let them do it. Every person/experience that has occurred in your world, every little or big setback, every perceived ‘failure’, you have been responsible for calling into your life, either consciously or unconsciously, or by seeking it out, attracting it, making it mean something about you, or ignoring it.

‘Wait!’ I hear you cry. ‘I didn‘t ask to be abused/neglected/bullied/dumped/ fired/etc! That wasn’t my choice!’ Maybe not. But how you react to it is your choice. What story you make it mean about you is your choice. Not doing something about it is your choice. If you use it as an excuse to not live the best life you can, then that is your choice. You are in charge of your life and how you react to these experiences.

And thank goodness for these experiences. If our lives were problem-free, there would be little opportunity to find out what’s inside us—our strength, our courage, our will, our love. Each and every ‘adversity’ we face is the opportunity to learn and grow as human beings.

So instead of being angry at all those people who did something to us, let’s look at it in a different way. Let’s look at it as a choice we made to bring these people/experiences into our lives so that we could come a little closer to finding out who we really are. See them as the little setbacks that make the victory all the more sweet. See them as the little tests we endure, so we can be sure we really want something and are on the right path.

So don’t be angry, resentful and bitter. Instead, say thank you. Think about someone who has held you back in some way and say to them or yourself: ‘Thank you. Thank you for the experience you have given me. Because you helped make me into the person that I am. And I am amazing.’