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):
- Where do you get your ideas?
- How do you overcome writer’s block?
- What kind of pen/software/operating system do you use?
- What time of the day or night do you write?
- What kind of house am I going to buy with my first advance check?
Questions Gonnabe Writers ask (usually of themselves):
- What are my goals for today, this week, this month, this year?
- What kind of career do I want to have?
- What tasks do I need to tackle today?
- Did I hit my word count for the day?
- 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.