I’ve spoken to a fair few writers in my time. Well, that’s a nice opening line to make yourself sound old. Anyway, it’s fun to discuss the writing process and your individual pros and cons in addition to your actual stories. And during these discussions, over the years, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer. I’m sure what I’m about to say will sound familiar.
Years and years ago, I used to say that my barrier to writing, and the thing that I did not enjoy, was finding a way to connect the dots. You know, adding all the “fluff’ and “in between” stuff. I’ve only realised over the past five months that what I had actually been saying at the time, was that I had not yet found a way to enjoy writing itself.
You see, writing a book is not about the grand, singular ideas you have, or the great plot twists or the significant story-altering events. It’s about writing. That sounds simple, but it’s truly about the flow and just letting the story breathe. Projecting your thoughts and imagination onto paper.
Sure, we all have those epic moments in our heads, and the significant story events that must happen. But the essence of writing is in filling the pages.
Today, it’s the part I am absolutely in love with. I fell in love with it over five months ago when I set myself to completing my first book, and now it gives me tremendous joy.
And I realised it. When I had said all those years ago that I had not enjoyed the “fluff”, it was because I wasn’t yet a writer. A writer of stories anyway.
The plot twists will come. The significant events will come. The epic moments will come.
But the beauty of putting pen to paper is in joining the dots until you reach them. It’s about bringing the story alive – translating it from merely ideas in your head to something real.
That’s what all the in between stuff essentially is. For me, it’s the life of the story. And by saying all those years ago that I did not enjoy “filling up the pages”, what I actually meant was that – as I said before – I was not able to actually write a story.
I think a great many writers have to overcome that barrier. For me it was mental toughness that did it and tremendous motivation. I think the first step is to relax. It’s to just let the story flow. Write what you feel and imagine one scene to the next.
Of course, that makes it sound easy. Illusion shattering time: it really isn’t. It’s the core of writing. It’s the most difficult part. But it’s also the most rewarding. Perseverance is a major factor. You do need to push yourself. You do need to stick with it. Because the first attempt at anything will be the most difficult. But it has the potential to make the most impact on you.
Actually thinking up the events that will happen in the “fluff” parts can be a grueling task at first. But I feel that writing is one of those things where the more you do it, the more it comes naturally.
Guess what the worst part of writing for me today is? It’s actually pretty funny.
It’s formatting the book.
I discovered that in the past few days. Adhering to all the instructions to make your book ready for Paperback and eBook, having to gruel over every little detail in fear of making a tiny mistake. Maybe this was probably because it was my first time doing it, but you see writers just want to write. All the rest of it is just chore-worthy.
And I hated it. It gave me hours and hours of stress.
But you know what? In the end I overcame it too. And I acquired a new skill which I can put to use in future, and knowing it now will no doubt make the second time easier.
So if you asked me what the worst part of writing is, I would have to say it’s when the time comes to follow the rules. And formatting represents that for me – it can really be a pain.
For the entire writing process, I lose myself. There are no rules or boundaries or even the outside world. It’s just the story. And I suppose when I came crashing down to earth to the not-so-glamorous part, it made me quite frustrated.
But in the end, my advice remains the same: persevere. You learn so much in taking the journey yourself and actually breaking the illusion that you’ll just sit back on your chair and write books and have no other responsibilities or duties or work. Taking the time to really do it all yourself and learn what you need to is a time-consuming but ultimately extremely rewarding adventure.
I’ve only written one book – that I hope I’ll be able to share with you very soon if all goes well on the publishing end. Hopefully I’ll know in a few days. Regardless, completing that book gave me an insane level of motivation to write more. A whole lot more.
I guess the point of this whole message was to stick it through. I’d like for others who are dreaming of writing a book to have the same feeling. I’d like them to get past the barriers and get to the part that truly is amazing. Or better yet, realise that the thing they’re struggling with is actually the best part of writing – and it’s just being overshadowed by the bullshit.
In the end it’s important to have your illusions shattered. What it does is wake you up to the truly great stuff, especially the ones you were missing all along.