After cutting so much of my book, I became a word miser and Ken’s been helping me flesh out my story again. He’s also been a great help to me in getting my story structure in shape. Naturally I became curious about what made him decide to write. So I asked him to explain. Read on, and see if this might happen to you.
Okay, Ken, you’re on!
Based on the stories I’ve found on the blogosphere, most writers knew they wanted to be writers at an early age. Sometimes, apparently, even before they were out of diapers. As someone who is struggling to write their first book, I find this a tad disheartening. Why?
Because I spent most of my life hating the very thought of writing.
I disliked my English composition class. I felt having to write a thesis as a requirement to my Ph.D. was a cruel form of torture. And writing papers for publication in scientific journals is like pulling teeth. It’s not that I hate words, mind you. It’s just that even when I know exactly what I want to say when I sit down to write, grabbing hold of those ideas whirling around in my brain and slapping them down onto paper just doesn’t come naturally to me.
But two and a half years ago I discovered how much fun it is to write fiction. And that has made all the difference.
So what was my path to becoming a writer? Here’s a quick synopsis:
1. Several years ago, depressed at the thought there would be no more Harry Potter books, I ponder how Rowling might go about writing another series of books based on her magical universe.
2. Ideas for this imaginary book pile up inside my head. It’s nothing more than a thought exercise at this point, but soon I have so many ideas, I’m forced to write them down or risk losing them. To my surprise, I find putting the ideas onto paper makes them feel more real.
3. I start arranging these ideas so as to form a coherent short story. The idea of writing a book is the farthest thing from my mind.
4. I discover that plotting story lines, inventing subplots, and developing characters are all incredibly addictive activities. I now have too many ideas for a short story and the WIP evolves into a full length book. Despite all this progress, I still have trouble finding words that adequately describe what I see in my mind’s eye. I wonder if I can pay someone to take my first draft and write this book for me.
5. I learn everything I can about writing. Follow every writing blog I find (well over 100 at present). Buy books on the craft of writing. Learn about concepts like story structure, showing versus telling, dialogue tags, passive versus active, etc. My writing improves by leaps and bounds. My enthusiasm rises exponentially. I still search desperately for that one magical book that will reveal the secret of how to convert the ideas I have into publishable prose.
6. Fearful my wife is going to think I’m crazy, I finally tell her I’ve decided to write a book. A book I can’t sell because it’s fan fiction. She is amazingly supportive. Probably secretly thinks I’m crazy.
7. I still haven’t finished the first draft of my book, but ideas for new books begin to present themselves. I make lists so I can start on them as soon as my current WIP is finished. Begin googling “life extending drugs” so that I will have time to write all these books.
8. I find some critique partners, thanks to Rachel Harrie’s Platform Building Crusade. This is how I meet Sheryl. Because of my new CPs, the book continues to improve.
9. I finally come to grips with the realization that there is no magic bullet to putting words on paper. Just lots of time and hard work. And lots and lots of rewriting.
The moral of the story is that there is no single path to becoming a writer. Everyone has their own path. Just keep plugging away at it and never give up. If I can get there, then so can you.
Thanks to Sheryl for allowing me to post on her blog today.
It’s time now to try my Magic writing formula:
1. Think up an idea.
2. Write it down before you forget.
3. Practice writing daily.