So you want to be a writer? Let me first put a handle on this and ask. “You want to be a good and successful writer, correct?”
Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something—anything—down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft—you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft—you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it’s loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy. — Anne Lamott
Thus far, my learning experiences have taught me if you do nothing else jot down a thought every day. You can use that one jot as the foundation for whatever you would like to say. Be it an essay, short story, novel or screenplay.
For my book Faithwalkers: How to Survive in the Desert of Hopelessness. The jot was what Moses thought while in the desert. And from there, as I began building on that preface; it became clear what the book would be about. Biblical characters that walked through extreme difficulties in life, and never lost their faith in God; as it relates to us today. And how we in similar circumstances can overcome with those strategies.
The book started with Moses going into the desert and ended with four men tearing the roof off Jesus’s house; that a friend might be healed. Each chapter gives an inspirational viewpoint—How faith in God can pull us through some of the most impossible issues in life; while walking through the deserts of our minds.
This creative process is where you find that inspirational ‘something’, which motivates you and molds your ideas into thought-provoking pages. As you externalize your visions from worlds outside men’s minds.
People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it. — Harlan Ellison
There is no magic just hard work and excavating your mind for what has never been written or done. This is a tall order since there are millions of books with millions of subjects. However, there will never be another Bible, no matter how many translations, another War and Peace, The Great Gatsby, Hamlet or The Tales of Two Cities. These are all phenomenal books and through time passages we may see many variations. But there is only one original that started from a jot of a thought and is now noted in the annals of literary history.
So what am I saying? Take off all the misconceived negativity and just do it! Nike wasn’t the first one to coin that phrase.
While going through the ranks of great writers and their works, I found some had physical disabilities to overcome. Nevertheless, their desire to write overcame those disabilities. This is a partial list. Did you know?
- At the age of twenty-two Helen Keller when she published her autobiography The Story of My Life was both blind and deaf? Still with this handicap she learned several languages and graduated college.
- Octavia E. Butler was one of greatest science fiction writers of all time had dyslexia. And because she was bullied at the age of ten used writing as a way of battling the disorder and the bullies.
- Christy Brown, the Irish author. Suffered from cerebral palsy and was only able to write or type with the toes of his left foot.
- Jean-Dominique Bauby. Upon waking twenty days after suffering a massive stroke was rendered speechless. His only form of communication was winking his eye. After which he wrote The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote a 700-page book while suffering from a rare form of temporal lobe epilepsy. Having over 102 epileptic seizures he managed to write Crime and Punishment and some of the greatest works the literary world was fortunate to read.
- John Milton, known for Paradise Lost wrote the poem nearly two decades after he’d gone blind.
In the final analysis, those of us blessed with all our physical faculties, if we really want to write have no excuse. Procrastination will hold you captive until you decide to break out and get rid of the “can’t be done” attitude. To me, it is merely a by-product of the fear of failure and low self-esteem. You may not be on the Best Sellers List yet. Neither am I. But that does not mean you can’t get there.
“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.”— Ray Bradbury.
Welcome to Claudia’s Corner. In the coming weeks we will be giving writer’s tips in an effort to cultivate and encourage those who are hiding out with phenomenal talents they have yet to discover.
If you are not familiar with any of the authors quoted here today. Might we suggest searching them out and their works? The more writers you research—who knows perhaps you may find one with which you have commonalities. Or writing styles that can help you. This bread crumb I pass off to you: One of the most shared threads I found among great authors is their tenacity to read when they aren’t writing. Stephen King lives by that rule.
We’ve all got to start somewhere. Now pull out that blank piece of paper or blank computer screen and get busy! Happy writing!