Writing is a long winding, lonely and excruciating journey. It detaches you from your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends. Sad. But it would be ideal though to discuss with those closest to you the intention of starting on this journey. Tell your partner that you will no longer don that navy blue and white striped apron to help out as you regularly did, to prepare dinner, discuss with your children and grandchildren that you would be cutting down on your daily walk with them to the park. Painful as it maybe, you need this time.
When you dig you in to start writing that first draft, you need discipline far more than you would need inspiration. Sportspeople would attest to this, you need to set aside time to work on your skill, this may sound like a cliché, but it rings true more than you can imagine, “practice makes perfect”. Don’t wait for inspiration, sometimes this may take weeks, months or even years to come to you. Or sadly it would never come.
You have stirred up that unique and brilliant idea and you want to start writing, just slog on. Well, set aside stringent time to check on your E-mails and other social platforms and switch off your Apple and Samsung Galaxy 7, because you do not want any distractions and start writing. When you get tired, do something else, read the newspapers, books on writing or any literary work of your genre. However, your social platforms may also be inspirational, depending of course on the kind of friends you keep.
Allow me to digress here. When I feel drained of inspiration and energy, I browse my social media friends’ platforms, John Kerapelang Thale, (this fellow mesmerises me with his subtle humour), Gauta Komane and Walter Chakela, (for the sake of time I can only mention these three), and after reading their posts, I slog on. After all, you need positive energy all the time when you are writing a book. When writing your first draft, you don’t need to worry about spelling and grammar, you are inspired, keep on writing until the wells of your inspiration run dry.This is not the moment for your draft to be shining, the most difficult moment of your writing is yet to come. Re-writing, re-writing your manuscript, correcting the spelling errors, dealing with your grammar and plot. Self-editing, cutting on the excess flab on characterisation, setting and dialogue.
I would like to share with you this brilliant piece of writing advice by Dawn Field. The do it yourself (DIY) phenomenon is about taking matters into your own hand. Projects around the house or garden? Do them yourself. Pick up new skills. Get new experiences. Do it your way. We all need creative outlets. Some people paint, some play music, some rip down walls or build fireplaces. We constantly seek to improve our lives, and this includes upgrading the environment in which we live. This positive energy can involve brain, heart, and soul projects too – like writing a book. Writing epitomizes this special kind of DIY. You may never intend to show your writing to anyone. Or you want to do just enough to gain entrance to the writers group at your local library – or local pub. Or you just want to indulge yourself and give it a try to see if you’re any good. Maybe you used to write when you were younger and it’s time to get back to it.
Whatever your writing goal or motivation, you don’t have to aim to go professional to benefit; you just need to put some time into it. Writing is a great hobby. It keeps the mind fresh, brings new meaning to the world, and it can be therapeutic. Like any hobby, it can also become addictive. That’s the best kind of hobby – one you truly enjoy. Best of all, it’s super easy to get started: just grab paper and pen or boot up that laptop. You don’t even have to be any good, you just have to make personal gains. And who knows? You might just prove to be an inspired storyteller.
Looking at writing from this vantage point is also a way to free up serious writers from the enormity of the tasks at hand when it comes to writing a book. Even though you are working on your breakthrough novel, you can still take time out to have fun. A scribble here, a jot or two there. You can indulge a bit of hobby writing for stress relief and a reminder of how writing should inspire, be deeply creative, and downright good for the soul. Get that book out of you Whether you’re an old hand or a newbie who is serious about learning to write, the advice is the same: dig in and get that first book out of you. After you do, you can take the time to learn to write better – and any writing you do will help along the way.
Getting stuck and breaking through, or writing fluently and experiencing new successes are equally great teachers. No amount of study or learning can replace sheer, mad writing for gaining experience. Need more reasons to write? Try these:
1. Once you’ve written a book, you’ve proven you can do it. You have a book to show for it. You’ve joined the club. You’ve shown discipline. Even if you never show it to anyone, it’s still a major life achievement.
2. In starting your book, you stirred up a thousand questions in your mind about writing. By slogging on, you’ve likely answered most of them.
3. With a finished product to show others, you can now grow and benefit from feedback, a great way to discover and understand your weaknesses and strengths. How well have you gotten your story across to readers?
4. You are now in the exalted position to consider publishing. Just think carefully about whether it’s in your best interest. Many great authors put their first book, and plenty of others, under the bed and out of sight. Only then are they ready to start the book that will push them into the end zone.
5. When you finish your first book… you are ready to start your second! In writing your first, you will improve your literary fluency. It’s possible your second book will fly by and prove even more rewarding. By writing that first book you do yourself a huge favour. You get the job done, set yourself up for doing it better the next time around, learn a lot, and – best of all – become your own teacher. With a book in hand, you have the foundation for learning to improve from a position of privilege: as an author. And in the end, it all comes down to the truth that nothing feels quite so good as finishing what you set out to accomplish.