I realize the title of this article is completely simplistic. It’s the sort of “Zen like” simplicity, I think, that we all must face every day of our lives if we are writers.
It’s really exciting, to me personally, to do research on a topic I want to write about. Perhaps it’s the latent historian in me, but I really enjoy researching and reading about all sorts of subjects and all sorts of historical settings. I’m especially fond of Word War II history. No, maybe I’m more fond of life in the Old West. No, probably 16th Century England. On the other hand, I really like to read and research the life and times of the Vikings. And, I’ve actually taken several graduate level history classes about Mexico that were among my favorites for research and reading.
So. You can see my dilemma. I absolutely love to do reading and research. And I have four separate novels with everything from the first scene to the first chapter, and a couple of them written as far as four chapters.
But in all the years of reading, researching, and planning — I’ve never yet completed a novel manuscript.
What does that mean? It probably speaks to a lot of things about my personality, my lack of self-discipline, lack of focus, or whatever.
Above all else, it demonstrates the singular truth expressed in the title of this article: To be a writer, you must write.
And you must write often and continue writing, from the start of a project to its finish.
My biggest problem as a writer, whether we’re talking about online writing, novel writing or nonfiction, is this: I am lazy. And I have a short attention span, too, I guess. Much easier to start a project, then just set it aside for a newer shiny object when one comes along.
So I’ll tell you the same thing I’m telling myself as I write this article: Just get busy and write. Keep writing. Find a good writing exercise if you need one to make the juices flow and nimble up the old fingers, and repeat it every day to get started.
Then write. And keep writing. Write something we’ll all be proud of.