I have read a lot of books on writing throughout the years — A LOT of books on writing.  It all sounded great, logical, reasonable.  It all made sense.  And yet, I never really got off my duff and did it.

However, in the last few months, having gone through the trial by fire of NaNoWriMo, and keeping up that momentum (I’m pushing 400 pages on the novel — almost done!), I have discovered that all that great advice I read…well, it turns out it’s all true.  I just never followed it.  I just liked reading about it.  I liked reading about writing and imagining I was writing.  And reading those books made me feel like a writer.  It just wasn’t the type of writer I wanted to be:  a Wannabe Writer.

Here’s what I’ve found:  if you just sit down and commit to writing a short story or a novel, commit to writing one word after the other, you will discover the same truths that you would find in any decent writing book.  By doing so, not only will you really get it, but you will have written.  This is the essence of the Gonnabe Writer.

Questions Wannabe Writers ask (usually of other writers):

  1. Where do you get your ideas?
  2. How do you overcome writer’s block?
  3. What kind of pen/software/operating system do you use?
  4. What time of the day or night do you write?
  5. What kind of house am I going to buy with my first advance check?

Questions Gonnabe Writers ask (usually of themselves):

  1. What are my goals for today, this week, this month, this year?
  2. What kind of career do I want to have?
  3. What tasks do I need to tackle today?
  4. Did I hit my word count for the day?
  5. Did I back up the day’s work?

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the romanticism imbued in the image of the Writer.  I think most of us do.  Have you ever seen the movie “The Wonder Boys”?  Fantastic movie.  And part of the reason why I love it is because I love the pot-smoking, ragtag-robe-wearing, patches-on-the-elbow-academic Professor Grady (played by Michael Douglas) who has spent seven years trying to write a follow-up to his first successful novel.

Even though I eat this stuff up with a spoon, I think this kind of romanticism breeds Wannabes.  Who cares if writers are suffering, unshaven, poor addicts hunched over blank pages?  They’re creating Art, and Art is Life.  And in most depictions of writers, the self-inflicted suffering pays off:  they end up hitting the jackpot with a runaway bestseller that climbs the NY Times Bestseller List and digs in at the top.

Not that it couldn’t — and doesn’t — happen.  And who doesn’t want that?  It’s just that this kind of romanticism is what makes Wannabe Writers focus on the wrong things to get them to the top of the Bestseller List:  bad habits, bad clothes, and lottery tickets.

The Gonnabe Writer knows there’s only one way to the top of the heap, and that’s by writing.  If you must, write in a coffee shop (I do), wear lucky underwear (if clean is considered lucky, then I do), and have lots of bad habits and rituals (um, I do), just as long as you’re doing the work every day. This is what makes the Gonnabe Writer a Professional Paid Writer.

So order up a latte, wear plaid intimates, or light up a doobie… just show us what you’ve written.  Your public awaits.

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  1. miriage says:

    Great post. I suspect I’m currently somewhere in the middle of Wannabe and Gonnabe, but at least I’ve got bad habits and something resembling a plan.
    And congratulations on almost finishing your novel!

    • mybluescreen says:

      Thank you. Sounds like you’re on your way too. As long as you’ve got bad habits and a plan. 😉 Hope to read you soon.

  2. eviejane says:

    Hello! Great post–I also did NaNo this past November and enjoyed every word-counting, sleep-deprived minute of it. This was my first year and I started after the 1st so I wasn’t sure what I was doing. Happily, I’m hooked! I’ve already started outlining some ideas for NaNo ’10. I look forward to reading more of your work. 🙂

    • mybluescreen says:

      Thank you. And congratulations on doing NaNoWriMo. That’s so awesome. I tried to do it a few years in a row, and this past year was the first time I actually did it. It really changed my perspective on the creative process…for the better. Glad to hear you’re planning for this year’s already. Good luck!

    • mybluescreen says:

      Thank you, girlie! I’m finding the hard part isn’t getting the words in…it’s being okay with the words you end up with. But I keep telling myself…that’s for me to deal with when I put my editing cap on…which has been getting a bit dusty.

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