It was a friend I hadn’t seen for a few years. We had a chance to catch up and relax together. We sat under a breeze cooled morning sun at a local coffee shop. The breeze did double duty and carried aromas of espresso, lattes and coffee concoctions. I don’t drink coffee, but I love the aroma. We are both retired…sort of. We are both busier than any decade of our lives. We are both incredibly happy people. When I told him I was writing everything from this blog to novels and short stories, he lit up.
“I really want to write a book because I have this great idea.”
I encouraged him to set aside an hour or so every day and write. He seemed to go into a negative mind-set, and said he didn’t have the confidence.
I told him, “You have to give yourself permission to suck.”
Later, I thought about our conversation and realized there’s millions of folks who have some great ideas but don’t have the confidence to write it. I looked around online and within minutes had a few words of advice from other writers.
Here’s a great answer from Brian Walker:
If you have an idea for a story, but no confidence in your ability to write it, what should you do?
Brian Browne Walker
The same thing you’d do if you were a virgin but found yourself entwined with someone luscious: wing it. Get naked and vulnerable. Figure it out. Make mistakes. Learn. Grow through trial and error.
All writing is rewriting, anyway. However bad or good your first effort is, you’re going to scratch a bunch of it out and revise it. That’s what writers do.
Every great writer who ever wrote, like every lover who ever loved, started from just this position: inspiration, no experience, no confidence. You don’t need therapy, you just need to take the cap off a cheap pen and start scribbling. Make a mess of it. Then make it prettier. Start today like you’re dying, because of course you are.
One of my favorite bits of writing advice, from David Milch, creator of “Deadwood.”
… The ego is the enemy of the imagination. Anything that you think about writing when you’re not writing, is a product of the ego and is absolutely wrong. One hundred percent, all the time, wrong. And if take a step back and think how much time you spend trying to purify yourself in order to get ready to write, that’s like 95% of the time. And the reason for that is the ego has a stake in perpetuating the behavior that you’ve already engaged in. We do not think our way to right action; we act our way to right thinking.
So what I do is I start writing. If I think about my writing before I start to write, what I’m really doing is justifying not writing, because … I’m not writing. … I’m going to find a way to keep not writing. So what I say is I don’t have the idea yet; it’s not fully realized yet… Not only that: I don’t have pencils; my pencils are not sharpened; I don’t have the right notebook. … Whoa! Eleven-forty five already. Time for lunch.
… When you think about exercising, what you invariably say to yourself is, “You know, I’m too fat. What’s the point? I’m too old; I’m too fat; I’m too old; I’m too slow; I’m too this; I’m too that…” And all you’re doing is justifying the fact that you’re not exercising.”
So, get that idea down on paper and you’ll be amazed. Yesterday you couldn’t spell Arthur, Arthure, Author, and TODAY YOU ARE ONE!