Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I see potential writers all the time. They’re everywhere. I went on a cruise not too long ago, and I met two writers, both at my table. My accountant wants to be a writer. My family’s old probate lawyer wanted to write mysteries. Then I saw an article a while ago that mentioned how seven million Americans wanted to be writers.

That’s a lot of competition. But I’m not worried. Why not?

The vast majority of potential novelists and authors are no threat because they lack discipline. It’s a silly point, maybe even trite, yet this is what it takes to be successful. I’ve written close to a dozen novels, four of which are under contract. This isn’t about skill or inspiration. It’s all about discipline because I write every day. I make writing a job. It’s a third career for me.

Like any job, I make sure I show up, and I do it as much as I can. I work as a college instructor, teaching six classes every quarter. That’s more than most teachers, but I still manage to write. It’s not that I don’t have a life. There are friends, family, and my girlfriend, but I get my page written each day.

How? I make time. I write a paragraph while my students do their writing exercises. When class gets out early, I write. I write on my breaks. I write while watching episodes of Glee. It’s all about the will to sit down and force out a sentence, a paragraph, a page. Make it happen because there’s no other choice.

A friend of mine is working on his thesis. It’s a fascinating topic, and he’s a smart guy. But he’s only written a paragraph in the last month. I remind him to just sit down and make his hands type. But he can’t. For whatever reason, he freezes up. That wall exists for a lot of people, but I don’t have it. I sit down and I type. It’s just moving your fingers across a keyboard. Sometimes I write brilliantly. At other times, it’s utter garbage, but I make the process work.

In college, I wrote despite taking classes and working as an editor. I wrote my first book while trapped in a cubicle. Dream Runner was written between classes and editing a newsletter. Later on, I wrote Poisoned Star between tutoring sessions. I thought about my main characters while I walked to work or my car.

It’s not easy, but you can do it. Anyone can write. Everyone has a background. Everyone deals with people and comes up with stories. We all face problems. The whole of the universe is out there in a thousand experiences. Give yourself a goal, something you can achieve. A book is written one word at a time. Don’t forget that.


Duckie said...

this is my problem at the moment. I'm lacking the discipline it takes to write. I used to write 2k a day. Now I get caught up in life and will go weeks without so much as a letter. I have to make it a habit again...I have so many stories left in various state of completion...*sigh*...great post...so true

Tabitha Blake said...

Life tends to halt me in my tracks too. Its not that I don't want to write but I have less time to write this time of the year. Plus I stay really busy during the summer with the kids. By the time I have time to write I am so tired that it just doesn't happen. It is hard to write with children popping in every 5 minutes. I lose my train of thought and I end up writing garbage.