Recently, I came across this post from Hugh Howey:
In the article, which is actually part of a series, he shares some insights that he has discovered through his writer's journey. Since I would like to be a published author before I leave this world, this first part really hit home for me. I'd like to walk through these insights now.
Insight #1: Anyone can become a successful writer; the only person who can stop you is you.
He's right, but it's very hard for someone like me to believe that I could be a writer, let alone a successful writer. During my school years, I never felt like I was a very good writer. But, writing a book is always something I've wanted to do. I can relate completely to his analogy here. I have totally got in my own way all these years.
Procrastination by way of: I don't know what I want to write about. It'll never be good enough. There are a thousand other excuses to not start.
His definition of a successful writer is quite simply:
A successful writer is one who finishes what they start while striving to improve their craft.
The problem that I have is that I never even start, so why should I expect to finish? This is going to be the year that I get out of the gates.
Insight #2: You can’t compare your rough draft to any of the books you’ve read.
Well, this assumes that I have a rough draft to compare from. I could see where this would become an issue, if I had a rough draft.
But, this really speaks to a fear that I have. The fear of my writing not being good enough. I shouldn't expect perfection in the first draft.
My experience with the drafting process was never very good. The papers that I wrote in school usually only had one revision on them before I submitted them. Even talks that I have written as an adult don't get a thorough revision. This is definitely something that I have going to have to come to terms with. Nobody ever gets it right the first time.
Insight #3: There is no special qualification required.
I don't know that I have ever felt that I needed credentials to write or publish. It's true that I have read a lot about writing, but I have rarely put that knowledge into practice. I don't see this getting in my way. I just need to start moving.
Insight #4: The best writers are the best readers.
This is where the gap for me is really large. I really need to read more books. I have read this advice many times before. I need to put the phone down and start reading actual books. It's not that content on the Internet isn't good, it just probably hasn't consumed the author's life for weeks. This post is certainly no different, I am ripping this out in the course of an afternoon.
I really want to read more fiction, not necessarily so I can write it. I feel that if I am going to invest the time in reading something, I should learn something from it. But, I am sure I would learn something from just about any novel that I'd read. The last time that I really read any fiction was in school. I might have read 3-4 novels in my adulthood.
I also need to read outside of the areas that I am interested in as well. I should probably read more of the popular general non-fiction that's out there. Or maybe I should start with reading all of the books that I already have.
Insight #5: This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Hugh speaks here about the thought that writing is some kind of a "get rich quick" scheme. I don't know that I have ever thought about this much. But, I've read several books on my Kindle in the past couple of months about publishing a book a month. The theory here being that the more books you have in the Kindle store the more likely somebody will find you and buy your books.
This really doesn't sit well with me. I have always felt (perhaps to my detriment) that whatever I write it should be the best that I can produce. This would really only work if I were doing it to develop my craft. But even then, I don't know that hurrying through the book is going to produce something that I even consider revising.
The only good that I could see that would come out of it, would be to get the checkmark for actually completing something. I am not completely sold on either path, but I agree that it is going to quick, easy, or make me rich overnight.
More to come.
There are eleven insights in the first part of Hugh's series, I'll digest the remaining insights in my next post. This post is a small win for getting started.
Part two of this post can be found here.