Monday, April 22, 2013

Exploring Mistakes Writers Make: Desire versus Starting

The first step to any journey is not the desire to take it, but to put one foot in front of the other and walk it. In all my years of writing, taking classes, and going to writers’ groups I run into this strange creature called a “wannabe.” In all honesty, sometimes I feel like I am in their same boat as I look at the “less than a hill of beans” that I have been able to accomplish. However, there is the difference. Wannabes have not started the journey.

I run into a lot of new writers. They come to a writing group, a lecture, a conference looking to learn the craft and the art. They have started the journey. They may dream about the fairy tale contract and being the next household named author. There isn’t any shame in wanting to be that successful. It is a task where you are either Heracles or Sisyphus. But, they are on the quest.

Wannabes never get started. Sometimes it is because they are afraid or they think they must have everything checked off on some clipboard someplace like an airline pilot must do a pre-flight check before take off. Maybe sometimes they don’t realize just how huge of a task writing a book, a collection of poetry, or a novel is. Science Fiction writer Ben Bova once described the preparation for writing of a novel as preparing to lay siege to a city.  Many wannabes don’t have any concept of what such work entails or they just see in their dreams that they can simply sit and let the words magically flow.  If such magic existed, is there someplace I can buy a bottle, container, or bag of it?

Writing is hard work. That hard work starts with a simple question: Do you want to be a writer or a wannabe? If you want to be a wannabe, that’s fine. You can stop now and live in your fantasies—there’s nothing more you need to do.

If you want to be a writer, then you have everything you need to START your journey. You have the desire to drive you and you have some idea of something you want to write. It doesn’t have to be any good. It doesn’t have to be the next best seller. Just write it. Write. Write. That is how all writers get started.

Yes, the dream you may have once had may fade and be replaced with the fact that you are doing it. You are walking the walk—the journey—the quest to be the author that is within you. There are no certain paths, but if you want certainty, you should never have started this quest.

Welcome to the quest and write!

Thank you for reading and please visit and You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.
The “Exploring Mistakes Writers Make” blogs have been inspired by 70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer.

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