It's funny, the evolution of a writer. I started writing five years ago, and people kind of smiled and said things like “Oh, that's nice.” And when I started asking people if they'd like to read it, they usually would make a kind excuse or suggest they didn't read that genre, whatever it was. I wasn't offended. That's how I would have been.
But there were a few who bravely agreed to read what I'd done, and they were apparently * ahem * impressed. I told them I wanted to get better, so would they please tell me what they didn't like as well as what they liked. They asked me questions about what I'd written, found errors, questioned impossible plotlines ... and I surprised myself by being defensive and somewhat belligerent. This was my baby! How could they possibly find anything wrong with it? I folded my arms over my chest, huffed, and continued along the same line, determined to make it work.
And yet their ability to find fault showed me that they cared enough about the story to make it better. Their first impression every time was, “It was really good.” So eventually I started considering their suggestions (which, of course, I had initially requested) and began to work on them.
My husband was my first supporter, thank goodness. If he hadn't been, I would have felt guilty, spending so much time with this new “hobby”. After all, what did he have to compare to this? Because I love writing. I love when an idea grabs me and pulls me along, tosses me into the fray, grips me hard and makes me cry. I love watching my fingers fly when the characters tell me their stories.
So he started telling people “My wife's a writer. She's written three novels."
The response was always something like, "How interesting. Are they published?"
He replied (until recently), "No. Not yet. But she wrote them.”
Is it wrong for me to admit that I never wanted to write a book before I did? I had no idea writing would become my passion; I was never one for telling stories. My kids would ask me to tell them a story and I'd race off to the bookshelves to read – I never imagined making anything up from my own imagination. It was stories by other people that inspired me eventually to try my own hand, and I was relieved to find out that I didn't have to tell a story. It told itself.
So if you want to write a book, why don't you? No time? Five minutes a day. Really. Can you afford five minutes? Because if you start with that, the rest of the time will find you. But try really hard to do it every day or else you could be distracted by things-that-have-to-be-done.
Lack of willpower/concentration? First off, you should know that I, personally, have no willpower whatsoever. I could be entirely full from a ten course meal and still look at that chocolate bar as if it were the last food on earth. Secondly, concentration? Trust me. I can barely remember ... what was it I was saying?
Lack of confidence? Ha! Even the best of writers have that. And who's to know? Maybe you just write something but keep it to yourself. It's still writing. And never, ever throw anything out. Just put it away.
Don't know what to write? Some people say “write what you know”. Others say “know what you write”. I say “write what comes into your head.” Some days I might scribble about what the beach makes me feel. Some days I might vent about my day. Some days I might sink into my story and lose myself in history, adventure and romance. Just let it take you away.
I read an article awhile back in which an author was offended (as were most of the commenters on the site) by people comparing their desire to write with someone whose work was published. Well, I'm offended by the attitude of the article. Writing is writing. Of course the dream is to publish – if only so you can share what you've written with a wider audience. But if someone tells me they've always wanted to write, then my immediate reaction is ... Do it! Would you help me?they ask. Sure! Ask away.