The Most Dangerous Word

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer.” This is the most common phrase I hear when I tell people I’m a novelist. Chances are, if you write, you’ve heard it or some variation of it as well.

I get it. It’s what I always used to say before I took the plunge into the murky and often terrifying waters of fiction writing. I want to be a writer, but…

But! The most dangerous word in the English language. It’s the reason so many good ideas and dreams never see fruition.

But the kids are in school and I have to work. Then there’s band camp, football practice, cheerleading, and soccer. There’s simply too much to do.

But I’ve got to take care of my parents, my husband, my kids, my pet parakeet.

But I don’t know if I’d have the patience to finish a whole novel.

But I don’t know how to even go about writing/editing/publishing a book.

But. But. But.

It can kill a dream as quickly as the dreaded question ‘what if?’

I wish that there was some sort of magic pill I could prescribe to ease all your daily struggles long enough for you to finish that masterpiece that’s floating around in your head. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t one.  There’s no one-size-fits-all writing method that will work for everyone. We each have a different method, style, favorite song to listen to, and place we like to go to when we write.

You have to find yours.

It isn’t easy. Growth never is. Yet, if you truly have a burning desire to write and craft stories, it’s something that you have to do.

You have to write! Each and every day. If only for a few minutes at a time.

Starting is difficult. I know that from firsthand experience. I spent many years pushing my dreams of writing aside for other things. Life has a tendency to get in the way of purpose if we let it. Once I was finally able to admit to myself how important writing was to me, I started slowly with a few scraps of gibberish and snippets of ideas. Eventually, I began to write longer and much more fluid stories.

And then I set down to write a novel. I decided mentally that I would tackle the beast. I wrote the rough draft in about four months. A few weeks longer than I wanted to take, but I did it!! I slew the dragon that had held me at bay for so long.

The rough draft of the work is on the shelf in my closet. It’s terrible! And it’s one of my proudest achievements. Because through that exercise, I proved to myself that I COULD finish a book. I did have the discipline. I could see a story and plot out to the end.

Writers naturally have an overbearing self-critic drumming away in our brains. Listening to that critic, with all the what ifs, buts, and negativity will cripple even the best laid plans.

It’s time to turn it off and get to writing. It’s okay that the first few lines will be crap. It’s okay if you still don’t have any usable material after writing for a week. I spent four months writing a novel that will never be published. I wouldn’t trade a minute of that exercise. It was a vital step toward where I am today. Just remember that each day you spend writing is a day you are improving your skills. You’re honing your craft. You’re silencing your demon that says you can’t.

Write! If you want to be a writer, just write! It’s the only way to start. And it’s the only way to overcome all that’s holding you back.

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