Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Write Your First Draft - Without Delay

Dear Fellow Writer,

A warm hello to this week's newsletter. Thanks especially if you've just signed up to my blog posts. My guess is that you've recently found me through Amazon.

Well, here's proof I'm an actual real-live person, writing just for you on a weekly basis.

Enjoy the article!

Write Your First Draft - Without Delay

Don't Delay

Writers procrastinate. It’s a fact of life, often a conditioned reflex to the very thought of sitting down to create something new.

How do you find the motivation to write? Let’s look at the standard advice, and see what’s wrong with it.

According to some poor literary types, we should place posterior on seat and sweat out words. I’ve even heard writing referred to as bleeding on to the page, a nasty image that implies pain and suffering. 

Which authors in their right mind would want to feel this way about their writing?

Does a surgeon agonize over every incision? Does a bus driver experience angst at every turn? Does a builder feel despair and foreboding with each new brick in the wall?

Of course not.

It’s absurd to assume that a vocation causes anxiety to a professional.

Why is it only writers who associate discomfort and unhappiness at the thought of their work?

The truth is they don’t. Not professional writers anyway. Most of the myths about art being hard work come from struggling artists that haven’t yet mastered their craft, who are still struggling with their primary tools: their mindset and their motivation.

Having said that, I recently read that apparently eighty-three percent of Americans think of their day job as stressful.

My response would be: then why do it?

Perhaps we feel guilty if our job isn’t stressful in some way. Perhaps we feel that we can’t possibly choose a career that could be fun and easy for us. That we have to feel stressed by writing in order to justify it as an alternative way of making a living?

Because, if you chose a career that was fun and rewarding, perhaps nobody would believe you were actually working. And then you wouldn’t feel right getting paid for it.

Interestingly, the majority of the other seventeen percent of the US workers were comprised of high-flying CEOs and the self-employed.

It’s clear then that having a degree of control over your own work day is the number one factor when it comes to job fulfillment. And being a self-employed writer is all about being in control of your own work day.

So, it's true, all we have to do is sit down and write.

In a sense this is all there is to it. However, I know from many thousands of emails I’ve received over the years that it’s not quite as this simple. In fact I have dedicated a large part of my life to working out why it’s not that simple!

During my investigations into this problem, I have been forced to unlearn many of the illusions I held about writers: what they’re like, how they think and how they behave. I’d like to pass on one of these observations in order to help you.

First of all, it’s important that you don’t believe the hype.

There’s a conspiracy amongst literary types who want us to believe that writing is some kind of noble and specialist pursuit that only the truly talented can and should indulge in.

Fair enough.

Trouble is, we buy into this fantasy, no matter how ridiculous the idea is in reality.

The fact is anybody can be a successful writer. The majority of professional writers, even those bestselling authors, are just normal people with no great talent – just an acquired skill that they have perfected over time.

I’ve met hundreds of writers and I’m yet to find a true genius among them.

I’ve met writers that have good work ethics, who are productive and successful. But I’ve yet to meet writers that fit anything like the mold ascribed to them by certain critics and biographers. Most of what it means to be a real writer is a myth, one we have to break down in order to proceed with confidence. Successful writers are generally not different, better, more talented than us. They’re really not. It’s a silly illusion. Many of the best writers around today simply have access to better editors than ourselves.

Try this little exercise.

Imagine your favorite author before he or she was famous.

In all likelihood they were just like you, with thought patterns and agendas much like your own.

Certainly they had the same problems you face: lack of sufficient money, a small or non-existent fan base, trouble being taken seriously by agents and publishers, a dearth of serious writing time, slow book sales, and a myriad of other concerns that might plague you on a daily basis.

The big difference comes when you write a book that resonates with the public. That’s all. One book that sells well can change everything: your financial status, your ability to carve out your own destiny and to finally feel justified in taking all the time you need to write your next book.

So why not imagine that you are writing that one book right now?

All you need now is the first draft, which you can write quickly and easily if you read my books.

Besides, your first draft isn’t going to be the final product. But it will be the basis for the final product. It’s important you get through the first draft so that you have something solid to perfect later.

It’s crucial that you believe in yourself and in what you have to say, or that the story you want to tell is important, meaningful, worthy of other’s attention.

Motivation is not about making yourself write per se, it’s about wanting to be read.

It’s about needing to write a book that people will want to buy, because you believe it will benefit their lives when they do.

That’s where true motivation comes from: the desire to change the world, even just a little, for the better, through your writing.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell
Post a Comment

The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!