If You’re a Writer, Write

Hi Folks,

While so many are attending monthly writers’ group or crique group meetings, rehashing the same tired advice writers have been swapping and kicking around for years, I write.

While so many spend hours, days, months or even years outlining and researching and rewriting and polishing and doing any number of other kind’a sort’a writing-related things that aren’t actual writing… I write.

And while so many actively search for (and find) any of myriad other reasons not to write, all the while proclaiming they are writers, I sit quietly in a room and write.

When I’m invited to speak to writers’ gatherings, I tell them things they’ve never heard before or things they’ve heard and dismissed because what I say doesn’t jive with all the myths they keep repeating to each other — and which continue to not work.

What I want to say to them more than anything is what Robert Frost and Howard Nemerov told writers in similar gatherings at different times: “If you want to write, why are you here? Go write.”

I’m occasionally told that for me, writing is easy (meaning that for the speaker, it isn’t). “After all,” they say, “you have dozens of novels and hundreds of short stories under your belt. You’ve been at it a long time.”

And I say, “No, actually I’ve been a professional writer for only five years.”

They said, “So how are you so prolific? It must be because you’re a fast writer.”

And I say, “No, I’m prolific because I actually write.”

Five years ago, I had roughly the same conversation with New York Times and USA Today bestselling writer Dean Wesley Smith.

And he said the same thing back to me: “No, I’m prolific because I actually write.”

And for me, finally, the little light came on.

There is one stark difference between a would-be writer and a writer. A writer actually writes.

Thanks to DWS, I finally understood that the 6 hours required to write a 6,000-word short story is still only 6 hours whether it’s spread over a day or a week or a month.

And the 50 or 60 or 100 hours it takes to write a 50,000- or 60,000- or 100,000-word novel is still only 50 or 60 or 100 hours whether those hours are spread over a year or two or three years. Or a month. Or two weeks.

Seriously, the only problem to solve if you want to be a writer is the problem of application. You must apply the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair.

After that, you have only to let your fingers move over the keyboard to record what your characters are saying and doing as they (and you) race through their story together.

It simply is what it is. Writers write.

‘Til next time, happy actual writing!


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