BONUS: Just Write
I’m going to do something real unusual and get serious with you guys for a minute.
I have a day job, just like most of us do. I work forty hours a week. My travel time is between one to two hours either way. My ex boyfriend left me a while ago without a car and without any help on the rent. I’m a Type I diabetic, and in addition to all my other bills I pay about $150 a month for medical supplies. For a little while there, especially about a year ago, I was having a pretty bad time of it.
I don’t have it too hard. There are plenty–PLENTY–of people in this universe who have it a whole lot worse. There are people who can’t find work, or clean water, or who are in prison, or trapped in a totalitarian country, or who are in daily danger. But do I get frustrated? Yes. Do I go through entire days where I have maybe an hour to write? Hell yes.
But here’s why I’m telling you this. If you want to write–if you really want to–do it. For the love of Christ, quit talking about doing it and do it.
Since I was six or seven years old, I’ve known what I wanted to do. Books made a big difference in my childhood–were, at times, the best friends I had. And once I got old enough–once I realized I could put stories down on paper too–shit. That was pretty much it, for me.
I’m twenty-six now. This’ll be my first novel, self-published. I figure I stand to make about eighty bucks from it, if my extended family all decide to buy a copy too. I look forward to the single review I’ll get on Amazon from someone I don’t know personally. I hope it’s five stars.
But frankly? Even if it never happens–even if my book sits on that cute virtual shelf for twenty years with no love–I’ve still done what I wanted to do. Even if I get a slew of one star reviews and college writing majoresque people telling me it’s ‘derivative’ and ‘immature’ to write fantasy, fuck ’em. Because I did it. I wrote something that I–I–like. Something I’m proud of. Something funny, and dark, and strong, and with my heart written inside it.
This is success.
It might not sound like it. Honestly, there are times when it doesn’t even feel like it.
But it is.
So write, goddammit. If you’ve got five minutes, or five hours, or five thousand. If your life is going good or if it isn’t. If your grammar is awesome, if it sucks the big one, write.
Because the only way you will ever be happy with yourself–the only way you’ll ever be truly proud–is if you’ve written exactly what you wanted to write. Did you want to put an adverb in there? Go you. Put it in. Got a darling to kill? Only if you want to.
I see so much self-publishing advice out there, so much writing advice, so much information, some of it probably good. But in the end, the only thing you can do is what you know you have to do.
So don’t second guess yourself. Don’t listen too much to the experts. Take the five minutes of your cigarette break and write. Take the half hour you spend in your car waiting for the kids to get out of school and write. Say fuck you to your least important bills and buy something you can write on easily wherever you are. Keep it with you always, and always keep it charged.
When someone tells you you’re bad, don’t listen. When someone else tells you you’re good, don’t listen.
Have friends and family willing to help you out so you can write more? Good! These are awesome people. They may occasionally have to deal with not seeing you for a while. Because you’re writing.
Write until you’ve written down everything you have to say and then don’t write one word more.
Write until you feel like you’re a writer. Once this happens, it’s probably time to quit anyway.
Write until you’re happy.
Write until you’re satisfied.
It might never happen.