It doesn’t just happen…

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People always say, ‘hey I’ve often thought of writing a book!’ I usually just smile and say, ‘you should try it!’ It’s hard to know what else to say, given that according to the adage, we all have a book in us. In fact almost everyone I’ve ever told ‘I’m a writer’ has said that same thing. ‘Oh I thought about writing a book once, I had such a great idea.’

It makes me sad when people who seem really keen never do it. They have a great idea, but somehow that enthusiasm never gets converted into an actual writing process. The book isn’t born. They talk about it a lot, but they don’t do it.

Why is that?

Surely everyone knows by now that if you sit around waiting for inspiration, you will never do any writing? And then others seem to think they have to train first. They go to college, or they take classes, and they read a lot of books about writing a book.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you read about it, you have to make yourself sit down and do it. Take up your pen and walk  write. Because the only way to learn how to do something, really learn, is to do it.

Now, here we go: Christmas is coming, you’ll likely get a few hours to yourself here and there. You won’t have to get up early for work, nor stay late, nor be too tired when you get in. so settle everyone down in front of the TV with their chocolates and glasses of fizz, and take yourself off to some quiet place – the bathroom will do (at least you can lock yourself in) – and write. Just write a page about why you want to write. And the next day,w rite another page, about what you want to write about. And the day after that, write a description of your main character. And every day for the next forty years, write something, even if it’s only a page. You don’t need to show anyone. You don’t need to get it edited. No one needs to criticise your plot structure or your story arc.

Just write for your own enjoyment, and then when someone says to you, ‘I’m a writer,’ you can say, ‘Hey, I am too!’ Wouldn’t that be great?

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The new notebook – it’s a geeky writer thing

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What is it about a new notebook that feels so special and exciting? I remember when I used to get a new exercise book at school. The pristine, crisp cover with its straight, perfect corners. The clean white pages, somehow calling me, inspiring me yet at the same time seemingly forbidding. With the same irresistible allure as an expanse of pure untrodden snow.

And of course, this untrammeled beauty demands the neatest handwriting, the loftiest thoughts and the total absence of mistakes or crossings-out. I’ve failed in all three areas today. But that won’t stop me. I don’t need to put on airs and graces here.

A new notebook marks a new beginning. Nothing that has gone before will affect this notebook. There’s no memory here of previous failures. It doesn’t know of the times I’ve written trite, shallow, meaningless, unsatisfying rubbish. It doesn’t know of the times when I’ve tried a wee bit too hard and sounded like a Shakespeare wannabe, or worse, like a textbook on How To Write Fiction Really Really Well.

The new notebook opens up a world of new possibilities. It invites me to take risks and to experiment – it promises not to tell anyone if things don’t go quite right. It is a co-conspirator, a friend, a confidante. I could write anything in here, and it won’t give me away. I think I’ll try it. What have I got to lose? Nothing. But I could gain everything I’ve ever wanted. Or even just take one step towards that goal.

You could do the same.