People who want to be writers can spend an awful long time not writing. I certainly did. And they have many many reasons for not writing. But here are five reasons to stop making excuses and start writing.
1) Most of your questions about writing can be answered by writing.
I picked that tip up from Mur Lafferty on her I Should Be Writing podcast. And they are wise words. Plenty of would-be writers think they need to study a lot about writing first and once they know all about it, then they can sit down and write a great book right away. But it doesn’t work that way. Writing is a learn-as-you-go craft. You can no more study the theory and put it into practice perfectly first try than you could do so about driving, or playing the piano. You’ve got to do them, and keep practicing them. I don’t say that reading and studying advice and theory are wastes of time. They’re not, but they should be done alongside the writing.
2) Until you write you won’t know what your strengths and weaknesses are.
There is so much you could study about writing (plenty of it contradictory) that if you want to read it all first you would never get around to writing at all. You must pick your battles. Only once you’ve started writing will you find out which bits come pretty naturally to you and you don’t need to read a lot of advice about, because you’ve got them cracked. And only once you’re writing will you find out what comes hard and you struggle to do well. Once you know that you can concentrate your reading on those aspects and figure them out sooner than if you’re wasting time reading about an aspect you do well apparently by magic.
3) Ideas can go stale.
Lots of people have a Big Idea. A potential magnum opus they are waiting to write when they know enough about writing to do it justice. Maybe they even get on and start writing other stuff to learn how to be good enough to write this Great Book. And when they come to do so, with their carefully honed skills and highly developed critical faculties they realise this great idea is lamer than a three-legged horse. They’ve moved on and can see all the faults in it they couldn’t see whan they thought of it ten years ago. If they try to write it, even with their new mad skillz it comes up short.
Write your big idea now while you still love it. If it’s already too late for that, be prepared to jettison it. Don’t let it become an albatross.
4) You won’t run out of ideas.
Okay, you might go through a phase where everything you think of is stupid – if you can think of anything at all. But unless you are truly a one book wonder don’t fear running out of ideas after you write the ones you currently have. New ideas will come. In fact while you’re writing your brain will no doubt come up with a huge number of new ideas, because it’s on fire with creativity. Most of them will never come to anything. But that’s okay. Ideas are not a commodity in short supply. Once you clear out some brain space by writing the old ones, the new ones will come along.
5) You’re not going to live forever.
Would you like “She said she was going to write a novel someday.” on your gravestone? If not, get writing now!