Probably the most frequent question I get is, “Do you have to go to college to become a writer?” Take it from a college graduate…No! Absolutely not! I majored in English and took every Creative Writing course that was offered, and the one thing I did learn is that nobody can teach you how to write. Think about it. An instructor can’t teach you how to get great ideas for stories or how to make sentences flow with the proper use of words. Either you have the talent and drive or you don’t, and there’s nothing an instructor can do to change that.
The only way anybody is ever going to hone the writing skill is simply to write everyday of your life. Even if you only have
time for a hundred words, you must sit down and do
it. I think it was Hemmingway who would write a thousand words a day. That’s an
ambitious yet attainable goal even if you have a full time
job. You simply must make the time
whether it’s in the morning hours or late at night. Develop some kind of
routine. This is especially important if you are writing a novel. No matter how
geeked you are about your work, if you leave it for any length of time, you will forget the details and will be forced
to reread what you have done. My publisher just told me that I have a character
dying twice in my upcoming book. Even Stephen King couldn’t pull that off.
Another question I get is, “Where do you get your ideas?” And my answer is, “I don’t know.” All I know is an idea comes to me when I’m least expecting it. At any one
time, I have five to six ideas rolling around in my
head. After a year or so if they are still there, then they must be worth
pursuing. The lame ones seem to just disappear. It’s not like I can simply sit
down and start thinking and try to come up with an idea. I’ve tried that, and
it doesn’t work. Stephen King was on vacation and stopped to stretch his legs.
He was staring into a forest and thought what if a little girl got lost in the
woods. That was the seed for THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON.
I guess what I’m saying is if you have the talent and the desire to write, it’s
time to get
busy. Just remember that the first 10,000 words are the easiest. It takes an
extreme devotion to finish the other 70,000. I’ve written 12 novels and 8
screenplays. The one piece of advice I will give you is be sure that you are extremely
excited about your project.
I could go on and on about this subject, but you’re probably already bored. If it takes 4 months or two years, it will never happen until you get started. Quit making excuses and get to work.