Writing Secrets: What writers need most of all
A friend of mine once found herself seated beside a doctor on a flight.
“And what do you do?” he asked expansively, after treating her to a half-hour discourse on his many achievements.
“I’m a writer.”
“Oh, nice life,” he said, patting her hand. “Sitting around while the rest of us work … ha ha, only kidding. Actually, I thought I might knock off a book when I retire. Might keep me busy for a month or two.”
Oh, the hubris.
But don’t waste time becoming irate on her behalf, or on behalf of all writers. He’ll learn – if he does decide to “knock off a book”, that is. There’s nothing like writing to make you humble.
We’ve had more than a few people turn to us with quite unrealistic expectations. They’ve never written before, but they want to have a book written in three months, published in six. I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that with writing.
You may be a loving reader with a pretty turn of phrase and a delicious way with a metaphor. You may write with lyrical rhythms and robust verbs. But perhaps the most important quality for any writer is to be dogged.
It’s easy to sit down and write when it’s fun; when it’s flowing and you have a good idea. But you need to sit down to it even when you fear it, when it’s not going well, or even when you haven’t an idea in your head.
You have to face your fear – and your empty screen. You have to pick yourself up when you’ve just realised your third draft isn’t working at all and that you may need to start entirely from scratch, using what you’ve already written as raw material.
You’re building a great cathedral. I do believe you need skills and a great vision. And, yes, talent helps. But most of all, what a writer needs is the doggedness and perseverance to keep going.
Read Richard’s latest blog: ‘Monday Motivation: This is a Walther PK380 and it’s aimed at you‘
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