Advice for Aspiring Young Writers [from an Aspiring Young Writer]

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Show up.

I’m convinced that’s about 80% of writing a book right there. Show up to write, day after day, and put in the work. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration will be abundantly there when you show up. Inspiration will learn your routine and meet you there.

Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by fear of failure; I am telling you right now: you will fail.  But keep showing up. Write a bad first draft, the worst one in the world. But then show up and write a better second draft. Show up again and write a better third draft. Repeat until you’re satisfied with your work. Meanwhile, the people who never showed up might not have a first draft at all. They’re still on the starting line, scared to put down a wrong word.

Think about Story more than grammar. Read great books and then take the time to think about what you liked about them, what made them “work” for you. Copy that technique. Put your own spin on it.

Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

In other words: show up, show up, show up.

Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

In other words: show up.

Stephen King wrote, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.

He’s right: you’ve got to show up.

Writing is hard. So hard. One of the hardest things I’ve ever committed to in my life. But also one of the most rewarding things. And when my first novel comes out, if you enjoy it, please remember that it took 33 months of showing up– almost daily– to get to where it is. And those 33 months came after 48 months of showing up to another novel that never even saw the light of day. And before that? Three years of college writing courses. Along with a whole childhood packed full of stories from the moment I could first write.

My book is less the result of talent than it is of  hours and months and years of showing up to do hard work.

Ready?

 

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19 thoughts on “Advice for Aspiring Young Writers [from an Aspiring Young Writer]

  1. Thank you!! Seriously, thank you.

    Sometimes we know things but still need to be reminded by someone who can reasonably say, “This works. You know it, now do it.”

  2. I love this. Thank you! This is something I’m learning as I’m starting to carve out time every day to write. Just keep on showing up, even when I’m not ‘in the mood’ or feeling inspired. This is so encouraging to read.

  3. Awesome stuff, Jackie. And so true. Showing up with our scared, neurotic, confused but hopeful selves is the doorway to good writing.

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  6. Nice Article Jackie… I completely agree with you about think about story rather than worrying about grammar.
    Also thanks for posting inspirational quotes from well renowned Author!

  7. Pingback: Resistance: The War of Art | Jackie Lea Sommers

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