Write, write, write

writeIn my humble opinion, there are two main rules to becoming a writer: read a lot and write a lot. You can’t do one without the other, no matter how much you try. Fiction writing is different than any other kind of writing, and there’s a point in knowing the conventions of the genre before you can break them.

But today’s post is about writing. A lot.

A lot of writers are afraid that what they write will be the worst thing ever written. They want to write great stuff… they even want to write brilliant first drafts, because that’s how they think great writers do. And they spend a lot of time not writing. They always wait for the perfect conditions, for the right time and place, for some mystical alignment of the stars.

But the truth is that you just have to write. If it’s good, it’s good, if it’s not, you can always edit. Or just throw the damn thing away. A lot of my stories never got a chance to be read by others. I just felt that they were rubbish. When I wrote them, I wrote them with the conviction that I was writing something great. The end product though… wasn’t so great.

I used to be afraid to write, as if my talent was limited to a certain amount of words. I’d very carefully choose my stories. I spent a lot of time searching for that brilliant idea. I wrote only when I felt inspired. All that meant that I wasn’t really writing. A couple of short stories per year, a few chapters… less than ten thousand words.

Now, I can write that in a week. Maybe less. Because I no longer care. I want to just write, to tap, tap away all these ideas and dreams, and I don’t care about what others might think. I don’t want to write the greatest story every written, I just want to write my stories, the way I want to, and I just want to enjoy it. I want to write because that’s what I want to do, because it doesn’t matter if my stories are rubbish or not as long as writing is the one thing I enjoy doing most in the world. That one thing that makes me happy.

82 comments on “Write, write, write

  1. Great philosophy. I agree entirely. Keep writing!

  2. maryslow says:

    Ironically, I read this post the same day I committed to writing my first book.

  3. Well this was timely. Great post. I am writing a little more than I was these days and I need to be spurred on to writing a LOT… There are every day excuses and legitimate reasons why it is hard to find the time, but the time is THERE. I just haven’t been willing to pay the price of it yet.

  4. Myfanwy Marshall says:

    Great that we can all encourage each other and receiving these blogs are a little nudge, thank you :)

  5. This was great! Thanks for posting.

  6. vanyieck says:

    Blither farble krackleskype. Man, when you’re right, you’re right. I better just follow your advice and keep writing.

  7. rossshapland says:

    Good advice! I also find constantly writing frees up space for new ideas, as it avoids lingering in the hope of imminent refinement. As you said, it can always just remain a draft! Great post

  8. I wish I had read this before my post! You captured my sentiments more succinctly than I could. But perhaps that’s because you are a writer and I’m still working on it. :)

  9. Daria says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this very inspirational post! Everything you said is true, and even though I’m not quite “there” yet it is highly motivating to see where the right mind set can take you. I wish you all the best on your journey of words!

  10. nrdaswani says:

    Thank you! I have been trying to stop myself in blogging. I found out I want to write a lot. I want to write, well you call it blog in here, about anything under the sun. A form of outlet I suppose. I do get inspired if people read it at least. I want to veer away from reading the STATS everyday but find it difficult. Is this normal?

    • You have to stop worrying whether or not you’re doing the right thing, whether or not people will read or care or comment or like your posts. Just write. It’s as simple and easy as that. Write what you want, when you want, how you want.

      And you should be the one who cares about your writing, not someone else. If you care deeply about your words, then someone else will care as well.

      • mariaquiroz says:

        Exactly so true. To write is to express yourself and follow your passion. It is about letting all out and speak what is on your mind. It does not matter if people would read it, like it or comment on it. It is about you and no one else. I write for myself, not for other peeps in general but I would want everybody to know how I feel. Thank you so much for this great post.

  11. lexc13 says:

    All very true words. I’m sure many have been crippled at the beginning of their careers by the same fear of writing bad stuff. I’ve struggled for a long time trying to write and edit at the same time. I have learned to try to force myself forward even if a sentence isn’t perfect. However, on the other hand there have been times I was struggling with an entire piece because of one sentence and then once I found the right words the rest of it flowed so easily. Sometimes you have to find the happy medium in between. On a little related note about your first point, I actually met a writer who said he never really read. I just thought that was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard.

    • It’s really important to realize that nothing you ever write will be perfect. Also, it’s just as important to let go. Stories don’t get finished, they’re simply released.

      And, yes, it’s ridiculous. Reading is an integral part of writing. Yes, I think that somehow it’s possible to write well without reading fiction, but you do need to read a lot of other stuff (non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, etc.)

  12. David says:

    Great post and very inspiring! You’re right — it doesn’t matter if what we write is awful, as long as we’re having fun doing it. The perfect first draft is a myth that I am fighting hard to get over. Write on!

    • Sadly, there’s no such thing as a perfect first draft. Writing is (mostly) rewriting, so you shouldn’t worry when you write. Just type the damn words out of your brain, there’s time to figure everything else after that.

  13. Aaron says:

    Excellent advice! We write for the practice of writing!

  14. Now this is an inspiration!!!

  15. Hayley Knighten says:

    I agree. I had the same fear until I participated in NaNoWriMo last year and got into a routine of writing everyday. I’m learning to be more brave and allow perfection to wait until revision.

  16. Guatamum says:

    It’s like you took the thoughts right out of my head! I used to also be afraid of writing because I was afraid that what I wrote wouldn’t be good enough for myself or whomever read it. Now-a-days, I write constantly and I save everything, good and bad because I like to see my growth through my writing…and how do I expect to see growth if I keep doubting everything I write and throwing it away?! Anyway, great post! Very relatable!

  17. jmgajda says:

    So well said! They say a person needs to spend at least 10,000 hours practicing to perfect anything. The same is true with writing. Write a little everyday if you can, because it adds up quickly and becomes a habit you can’t live without sooner than you’ll even realize.

    This was terrific advice for any writer, no matter where they are in their career.

    I hope you’re feeling better.

  18. Write, write, write is right! ;)

  19. jeansasson says:

    Every person who has aspirations to be a writer should be following your post… Always interesting, a little quirky sometimes, which I’ve found is a sure sign of talent, but really fun to follow.

  20. jeansasson says:

    I was drawn to this sentence, “And they spend a lot of time not writing.” I’m going to quote you on that, but I’ll give you full credit — love it.

  21. lauramccain says:

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  22. I have so much envy for those who write because they enjoy it. I have experienced occasional moments of pleasure when I write, but more often for me it more closely resembles ripping off a scab even if what I am writing is not on the surface deeply emotional. It always feels like I am ripping out a tiny piece of myself and leaving it out there for the world. I “have” to write, I walk away and then it’s like everything gets all stuffed up in side…sort of like congestion or a plant needing pruned (on second thought maybe I can write my self skinny…hmm) . I am eternally jealous of those of you who take pleasure in the act itself.

  23. kocart says:

    I write a blog–and have been doing so for a couple of years–while a full sized writing project (59,000 words, so far) simmers away. The blogging, with some very professional editing, has been a discipline, and now I wade through the drudge work (notes, bibliography, and the Chicago book of style) with more than a little interest. Write, write, write, indeed. Make it the best you can make it, then take a sharp pencil to it and fix it, then fix it again. Ultimately, hope you arrive at something that will be read, and not skimmed with impatience. Writing is work. Interesting, inspiring, but it is a discipline just the same–and like a sport, practice is essential. You polish your writing like a gemstone to bring out the sparkle.

  24. Great sentence: “there’s a point in knowing the conventions…”
    I’m a forgetter of reading–and when I forget to read, I write less.

  25. I’m enjoying writing more and more as I continue blogging.

  26. My sentiments exactly! Write on!

  27. Koli Song says:

    Beautiful. Just what I need to just write. Thanks Cristian.

  28. This is exactly it. You need to keep writing until you improve enough to get those awesome (not first) drafts of your work, they’re not going to just materialize for you.

  29. As someone very new to the blogging community & even new to writing as a hobby – I feel like your posts are my own personal tutor. You give spectacular advice & the fluidity of your writing is so easy on my eyes. So happy to be following your words. Keep up the great work, can’t wait to read your books & stories!

    Cheers.

  30. LiluFC says:

    You are right. I need to take some of that time I dedicate to too much reading so that there is actually time to more writing. I need to take risks and like you said, if it’s bad, I can just throw the damn thing away!! :)

  31. refusneus says:

    I am exactly like this!! I barely squeeze out about 3-4 chapters a year because i’m so afraid of it being crap or writing only when I feel like i’m in this paramount state of inspiration.. -_-‘ Very encourage, thank you!

  32. Good advice. Elementary but profound. Just write. If you’re a writer just write. Birds sing, Dogs bark, Writers write.
    In any case, no harm intended but I can’t say I agree with the intense emphasis you place on Writers reading. Why should reading be so important for a writer? So he or she can duplicate the ideas of others? Emphasis should be placed on what should give a writer original ideas/ a unique story to tell no one else can tell. 3 things; experiencing life (and writing about it), observing life + everything & everyone (and writing about it), soul searching/ exploring your innermost beliefs + discoveries on new perspectives on old issues (and writing about it).
    I hope I have not offended you in anyway. A writer reading has its merits (90% technical merits only for it groom’s writing skills), but I felt compelled to point out it is not that important. An illiterate who survived an ordeal with savage tribes in the Safari has much to write about (he or she can dictate to a writer), than a college professor who has read volumes about the Safari. Whose book would you rather buy?

  33. B* says:

    Absolutely true♥
    I feel like that on so many days… that one’s writing is never quite ‘writerly’ enough for an audience (outside of one’s own heart) and so, the thoughts or people zinging around in my head never quite get penned (or pinned down) on paper with ink or onscreen.

    I know that telling oneself that it is because of draining days of work that one has lesser time for ‘proper’ writing is also an excuse we tell ourselves since it usually turns out to be on such days that I really need to come up for a breath of fresh air and somehow end up finding the time to write (on my blog, for now).

    I do catch myself agreeing with your words, too – To write (with any decency approved by one’s heart and imagination), one has to keep reading as much, too.

    Strangely, it is by reading too, that our uncertainties (of how good our writing is, for example) may at times be fuelled, yea.
    Sometimes, we read stories that are awesome, by writers whose words speak to us, sing the very songs that hum in our hearts – and while that may help us feel we could write like that someday – usually, we fear we might not be able to produce something that good, for others, too.

    Of course, having said that, when one keeps reading, we can always come across writers who may not quite make the cut for one’s own standards of ‘readerly’ material, so there.

    That brings us full circle to your point here – that one needs to keep writing from our heart, no matter what our uncertainties or fears. :)

    Thank you for dropping by my site with your warmth, as always and for sharing your light through your words. Do take care and stay awesome, too :)

  34. FarmerFi says:

    Very true words! Great to know I’m not alone in struggling to put pen to paper. FFx

  35. susanddhavle says:

    Very nice post. Writing is practice and practice improves it I hope. I find it almost impossible to be really alone and that’s what I need to be able to feel emotions that make me want to write. But now I’m just writing in a disciplined way and being regular with my blog posts. Thanks for urging writing on your admirers.

  36. stormy1812 says:

    My dad once recited a quote to me (though I can’t remember who said it and when now) and it’s quite simple. This person was asked what he does as a writer. His response: “I write.” That’s what writers do – they write. They do read a lot because it’s a tool to help with writing. There are times when I think I’m burning out but if you just keep going, you’ll get through it. So I totally agree. I recently got off course but am getting back on. :)

  37. JudgeRoy says:

    I find in order write something I need to have something to write about. I read over post chapters/scenes and hype myself up about it. I like to have a picture in my mind about how I want the scene to look and then I’ll have to hold it in my head until I get a chance to write. Unlike most others I have a problem with motivation and concentration so I have to quite a lot of extra effort to prepare myself to write. Sometimes the words don’t come to me at all.
    But I agree with your post. I used to want to write perfect drafts but now I just write what I can, take notes about changing a few things rather than completely edit parts of the scene and then polish it all up after I’ve written the whole story through. In my case it’s more a screenplay.

  38. APTblog says:

    Sometimes, while we woke and pick a pen the fear of blunder like me, that is full of errors and posted seamlessly, just can cover mine shame, always hit. Not until I came across a personality like you. The grace of encouragement that accompagne a suppose silly days often look disappear.
    Its very good for me, this morning to come by hazard this too good lot of piece of advice like picking up a golden ring. You’re saint gift to me.
    But can I a lazy reader and bad writer,? Anyway, I promise to try my life depend.

  39. nordyblogger says:

    I totally agree. I’ve discovered that the more I write more my writing improves and the more I read the more I get inspired.

  40. alh387 says:

    Thanks for this post. What an important point – as some other people said above, it IS so easy to get caught up in the “will anyone actually read this? If so, what will they think??” which is looking at the wrong end of the issue. The point is to create what you feel you need to create. Thanks for the reminder, will be writing today!

  41. Couldn’t have said it better myself! Great advise, “just keep swimming” 😊

  42. Encouraging. Thank you :). War of Art really pushed me in this direction also.

  43. lisagower says:

    Many thanks for your encouragement.

  44. I too just want to get the stories out, especially those grounded in family history. I’ve a strong desire for my writing to be understood and my stories to have meaning. Feedback and like[s], even just one, tell me that a part of my writing is going in that direction. I agree with the write, write, write and the reading – in both we can be seen.

  45. Thank you for remembering me how should I get back on my track!

  46. “I want to just write, to tap, tap away all these ideas and dreams, and I don’t care about what others might think.” nice. thanks for inspiring:)

  47. It is true, I spend a lot of time not writing. But I’ll go easy on myself, I’m a new writer and after nearly two years of writing I have more confidence and I’m less bothered about people reading my stuff. Writing a blog really helps you to get over that. I am now at the stage where I can start to churn out more stuff. Thanks for a bit of a wake up call!

  48. Great post! So so true!

  49. Thanks for the post! And advice! I am afraid of writing myself, afraid that I might sound stupid and silly but I guess the only way to overcome is actually keep writing.

  50. journette says:

    I like this. :) If you’re a writer, write. It’s probably something you have to do anyway, something that comes from inside.

  51. adya00 says:

    This takes guts, kudos to you for writing this.
    P.S. I really like your writing style, its to the point, concise and keeps the reader’s (mine) interest up!

  52. dangersmith says:

    Long time listener first time caller. Haha, I’d like to thank you for this post. Its really kicked me in the ass, much like many of my fellow commenters. Which can I say holy shmow! Look at em all! You have quite the following!

  53. cari365 says:

    Thank you again for the inspiration, the hungry ghosts of my mind will no longer keep me from just creating art, just because it makes ME happy.

  54. xxx says:

    Beautifully said. I feel the same way and sometimes just scribble away all day long. Best days of my life…

  55. You are spot on! Read a lot and write a lot…. and don’t get so caught up in…. whatever. Just write. Thanks!

  56. Balder92490 says:

    “I used to be afraid to write, as if my talent was limited to a certain amount of words. I’d very carefully choose my stories. I spent a lot of time searching for that brilliant idea. I wrote only when I felt inspired. All that meant that I wasn’t really writing. A couple of short stories per year, a few chapters… less than ten thousand words.”
    Brilliant! I too was the same way. Practice makes perfect

  57. Danielle says:

    This is a great post and timely for me as I just decided to write a book after encouragement by others. Unfortunately, I have legitimate reasons why I don’t write or read enough and it is frustrating to no end. But I am hopeful that the health issues that made it take 3 days for me to read this post on the smallest screen I have, white text on black, will soon be gone. My frustration is a good sign I think because it means the desire is truly there and when I am healthy, the drive will definitely be there.

  58. ‘If its good, it’s good, if not one can always edit.’ No need to worry about having the perfect write up. Who knows, a master piece could come up when you weren’t planing it! Nice post.

  59. jessyccqm says:

    So true! Love it :)

  60. joyoftiff says:

    Great post and so true! Thank you for writing about writing :-)

  61. Liz says:

    I loved this! It was not only extremely perceptive, but also provided me with some much needed motivation. :)

  62. Italo says:

    Awesome! Somebody had to say it, not everything I write is great but I made it a habit to write daily now, sometimes I stop what I’m doing to write a quick email or blog before the idea escapes me. Best thing that’s ever happened to me.

  63. yummyyummyhungrytummy says:

    Very true! Great post!

  64. yitzchan says:

    Great words! Now I know what to do with the stories in my head. :)
    Thank you!

  65. amandagrey1 says:

    Thanks for this! I am EXACTLY like this. I have such a bad case of writer’s fear, that in the end I don’t write anything at all. Now, I’m slowly beginning to realize how much time I have wasted over the last few years being afraid. I think (I hope) I am beginning to overcome this, but it has been a slow process. Was there something specific that drove you to that realization – or inspired you to just write for yourself? I’ve heard it many times before, but for some reason, the words just don’t seem to sink in for me. I still self doubt myself, which is silly. And getting quite ridiculous!

  66. Most of the time I feel inspired about something, but sometimes I don’t. Tonight started out as one of those nights. I sat in the same spot for four hours, writing and deleting. Finally I gave up. And I started thinking about a conversation my friend and I had today. Then I was inspired and I wrote my latest article : )

  67. J.E.S says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. Perfectionism and writing are like a zero sum game.

  68. dabaudoin says:

    Excellent advise. Wish I was following it at the moment, but it’s great advise nonetheless.

  69. Amazing.
    And very encouraging.

  70. Agreed. There’s no such thing as the perfect time to do creatives….except now.

  71. A famous author and teacher once told me: “Apply butt to chair cushion and write…every day for at least an hour. You will become a writer.”

  72. Arwa says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. Write. Write. Write. Nothing beats the pleasure of writing. Writing for me is a mean of therapy, even though sometimes I write horribly. I keep trying, I write because I need to.

  73. Thank you for the encouragement. Just getting started after years of putting this off waiting for the perfect time. Now is the time! and I am making it happen! Again thanks for this article.

  74. Thanks for sharing. A lot of us share the same thoughts. I don’t believe that I’d ever throw something away, as you say we can always edit. Ideas sometimes don’t come when you want them too, it usually comes to us at the most inconvenient time. I just need to grab a pen or my phone and jot it down for later use. Rarely of my works am I confident to let it be read by others, but sometimes getting another’s opinion can be helpful. I’m re-learning how to write by writing. Starting from rubbish! :)

  75. I see you,just like myself,i think you are a kind of person with spontaneous flow of emotions.its my pleasure knowing you.

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