Why it’s never too late to put your story on paper (or tablet)
and fire up your life
And what’s your sad excuse?
Mine is I always believed I was too busy to write a book. I had no time. And, I had never done it before. People wouldn’t read my stuff I believed—they wouldn’t like my writing. There are so many lies we tell ourselves for remaining put, for procrastinating, for not committing. Granted, many are valid reasons—but they all remain just that: excuses.
What are other popular excuses we use to smother our dreams of becoming an author?
- I’m not famous or well known. (Sure. But where do you think James Patterson and Stephen King started?)
- I don’t know how. (Good news, it’s an art that you can learn and hone.)
- I don’t have an agent. (You don’t need one (yet.) First write your story, complete your manuscript, then one can cross that bridge. If you self-publish, you won’t need one.)
- I don’t have money. (You don’t need money—you need the burning desire to give life to your story; so sit down and write.)
- I have other commitments—my family comes first. (True, and it’s laudable. You soon learn to “create” time, you become more effective. Much can be accomplished in as little as 1-2 hours per day. You won’t die if you write from 5-6 a.m. and again between 10-11 p.m., if no other time during your day is available.)
- I have nothing to say. (Sorry, but that is not true; it is a big fat lie, if ever there was one. (One I told myself for a long time.) No person on earth, and I mean ON ONE’S life is worthless, each one of us has a story to tell. There are sorrow and beauty. Sometimes we have to remove the padlocks we’ve locked them away with. You only have to discover your voice. It’s there. Find it.)
- I can’t write. I’m not the writing type. (Have you ever heard of ghostwriting? Co-writers. There are writers who specialize in co-writing with someone, to help them put their thoughts in a more concise format for the world to enjoy. (Joe Bunting—The Write Practice)
- Writing is for OTHER people. I’m not that special. (Sorry, that’s a sad excuse.)
- I’m too old. (Please, don’t get me started. Read any of my previous posts and you’ll know my stance on this topic. Age is a number. We have much influence on our biological age. FYI, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie and other, wasn’t published until she was 65! Tell me your age again?)
“Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.”
FAQs about writing:
1 | Where do I start?
You need a dream. You need courage. You need a prompt. (This article is your prompt.) And more so, develop the discipline to sit down regularly and write. Preferably every day. Exercise those writing muscles. (Later in this article I touch on where to find help and guidance.)
“Dreams will get you nowhere, a good kick in the pants will take you a long way.” – Baltasar Gracian
2 | What types of writing are there?
Broadly speaking, there are fiction and nonfiction. Memoirs (creative nonfiction) fall under nonfiction. Everything you read, (and I mean everything) has been written by writers, by authors, by somebody. That somebody can be you. From advertisements (copywriting), magazine articles, newspaper articles and blogs to films (movies)—someone wrote those scripts, the copy for every single piece. Every show you watch on TV—yes, right again—was written by somebody.
Then there are also short stories, essays, and poetry.
Why can’t it be you?
If you don’t want to write a full novel or nonfiction proposal, write short stories, write magazine articles or learn to blog.
Oh, and then there’s good writing and poor writing. The former can be achieved (or rather approached), through practice, more practice, learning from mentors and masters, and by reading, more reading and listening, by becoming an observer of life, and by being honest, and brave. You need to be brave. Have courage. You essentially bleed your soul onto the page.
3 | Is writing hard work?
Of course, it is. What, if anything in life that is worthwhile—doesn’t require hard work?
It’s often lonely. Especially if you write serious, frequent and prolific. Being honest is hard work. Being transparent is not for the faint-hearted. You need guts. You develop tenacity.
Writing requires commitment. Always read more. Rewrite. Then go and write some more. Hone it. Trim it.
4 | Does writing pay well?
It absolutely can.
Often it doesn’t. But it also depends on what you put in and how well you develop your platform. Many copywriters and freelance writers have six figure incomes.
There are bloggers who have six figure plus incomes. You essentially become an entrepreneur.
Will you become rich? It’s possible, but not easy.
David Baldacci, has 110 million copies of his books sold. Do the math.
Even if you don’t become a millionaire, it will shape you, develop you as a person, bring discipline into your life, open your horizons, and yes, you’ll meet wonderful and interesting people. Colorful souls.
A very interesting fact that I’ve come across—professional (full time writers), often take good care of their health. By staying fit, they remain more productive. The math is simple.
What is it with people in their fifties? Why do people all of a sudden write books?
They all have a mid-life crisis!
No, it’s called a mid-life awakening.
Some already have an awakening in their twenties, some in their thirties. Others, sadly, never have one. They remain spectators, either to deride those who step out and try and push on until they succeed, or they pull back in their shells, sit on their comfortable sofas, grow silent and forget they have a voice.
How do we learn the basics of the writing craft?
- Read, read, read. Serious. The more (and wider) you read, the better you will write.
- Join your local writer’s guild or writer’s club. You can contact the Manitoba Writers’ Guild here.
- Attend writing courses in your city’s library or bookstores. In Winnipeg, McNally Robinson Bookstore has regular writing classes and courses.
- Learn the basics of writing and publishing. Subscribe to Writer’s Digest. For as little as $19.96 for a full YEAR’S subscription (print only) or $ 29.92 for print and digital.
- Read Stephen King’s book on this topic: On Writing. (It’s a memoir of the craft.)
How do we hone the craft? How do we get better? (If we are writers and want to get better.)
- Attend a writer’s conferences: e.g. the Writer’s Digest Conference. WDC16.
- Look at this brand new book: DIY-MFA by Gabriella Pereira. Do it yourself Master of Fine Arts—learn how to write with focus, read with purpose and build your community.
- Online courses. (K.M. Weiland – helping writers become authors.)
- How can one learn about blogging?
What are you waiting for?
Inspiration? A sign from heaven? If this article isn’t telling you to start, isn’t a sure sign, then what is?
How can writing a book impact the rest of your life?
- Gives you focus
- Gives you (a new) purpose
- Teaches discipline. Writing is HARD work.
- Good writing requires regular writing, rewriting, and extensive reading
- Confirmation that you can. Teaches grit, perseverance.
- It’s an art form. You create word pictures. You learn to paint with words.
- You discover flow. You can indeed become (more of) a blessing to others.
I had many lame excuses why it took me so long before I started writing. Some were lies I told myself. Remember the author of Little House on the Prairies, Laura Ingalls Walters. Don’t tell me you’re too old, too ordinary, or too busy.
Don’t believe your own lame excuses, like I did mine.
You need a dream. You need to believe you can.
You have a voice. Go inspire people. Go challenge them. Entertain them.
Go. Write something good!
(I have great news! My first novel, Be Silent (20th-century historical fiction), is in the interior layout and cover design stage! I will (forgive the pun), literary keep you posted.)
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