It’s so much easier to talk yourself out of writing than to actually write. Why should anyone listen to me? What am I an expert in? What do I have to say? So much easier to read. Reading is research, but also procrastination. Only actual writing is writing. Only actually writing makes you better at writing. And only writing through the bad spots gets you to the good spots.
I’ve written a book. Co-written. I started it, couldn’t get very far, and my husband came in to do the heavy lifting of the plot (very heavy lifting: it’s a mystery novel). A year later, we have a 119,000 word manuscript and we figured out how to work together. After beating myself up about not being able to outline a plot, I finally realized that my career so far has been based on talking to people, finding out what they wanted to say, and saying that for them — putting it into words that they could read off teleprompters, or that actors could deliver. I was good at that. So my husband, Dave, became my client, telling me: Here is the story. Here is what we need to get across.
It’s the first novel for both of us. So we’re working on honing our different strengths, sending queries out to agents, and working on the next book in what we hope will be a series.
And every day, we’re both looking to overcome doubt.
There are lots of places to look for help. One of my new favorites is Brainpickings. Maria Popova must be a very fast reader — and she has a gift for pulling out quotes and connecting thoughts and books and philosophies. I’m grateful to her for the writing advice she collects, and always come away from her posts with more books I need to read.