Sometimes everything just comes together. Earlier today I “pocketed” an article about writing. Later in the day, a good friend of mine asked some advice about “how to get a novel out of her head and onto the page”. I have within me great pride in that I completed a novel and even greater pride at being considered a resource on the topic. The advice I gave her and the advice the article gave were different, but complimentary. So, the question remains; how do you get a novel out of your head and onto the page?

Well, first, let’s assume that we’re talking about any sort of writing, not necessarily a novel. It’s possible, but not probable, that everyone reading this may have the desire or inclination to write a novel. Most of you are more likely to need to write a blog than a novel but still, the advice is not dramatically different. Let’s start with the advice I gave. The first step in writing is…writing. It sounds lame and cliched but the fact of the matter is that sometimes, you just have to start writing. There’s a movie I really love, Finding Forrester, that deals with the topic. Whether you start by writing gibberish or copying something you like, copying quotes or just writing down words you like. The act of writing will lead to more writing.

For example, I didn’t feel like writing every time I set aside time to write. But I wrote. Every time. Sometimes, the first 20 or 30 minutes of writing turned into nothing. But it always led to something. The fact is, a lot of people think that the great writing will just come to them. Not the case. Sorry everyone. If you expect great things to come out on the paper, you have to just start writing down words. Don’t worry, it will come.

Unless it doesn’t. Sometimes what you write will not be great. This is the focus of the article I read. It basically stated that you have to be willing to write crap if you want to write something great. I’ll use my own work as an example. As most/all of you know, I’ve been putting out about four new blog posts a week for the last three weeks. If you read all/most of them, you probably read a few that made you go “wow, that’s an amazing idea. I never thought about that.” BUT you probably read a few that made you think “really Mike? Really? This is what you took the time to write.”

Michelangelo said that the statue of David was always there and he didn’t sculpt David but rather removed all of the excess stone. I think that this applies very clearly to writing.  There is, within you, a great deal of stone (crap) and if you don’t get it all out of you, you will never achieve the perfection which you seek. I’ve always loved this idea. I live my writing life with this in mind. And you should too. How?

Start writing. Now. Give yourself a writing ultimatum. “I will write for two hours or until I write a really great idea”. I used to set four hour blocks. But let’s not get crazy. Why are you still reading? Go. Write something. Now. And if you want someone to take a look, I’m always listening.

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