If you write enough, it will eventually become a story. It might not seem like it, but it basically comes down to writing as many words as it takes to get something worthwhile. While there’s no doubt that practice makes it easier, and that good feedback helps speed up the process considerably, there’s nothing that circumvents this basic guideline.
Writing fiction isn’t some magical gift from above. It’s not a divinely inspired blessing. It’s mostly writing, and writing a lot. And then, writing some more. It’s writing and revising and writing and thinking about writing and thinking more about writing. It’s about sitting down and doing it.
I say this because, if you put aside all the glamor, all the misconceptions about writing, it is, like most art, a question of devotion. You have to devote yourself to it if you want to be decent at it. I know there are talented people out there who have an easier time of it than others, but even those people, if they want to be great, have lots of time being lousy at something.
Nobody is born great at anything. Heck, we appear on this planet incapable of walking or feeding ourselves. Learning to walk is a major accomplishment, and while it’s true we almost all learn to do it relatively easily, it’s also true that we have to allow ourselves to fall down a lot while learning.
That’s novelology to me. It’s about writing a lot of stuff, falling down, picking yourself up, and doing it some more. It ain’t pretty sometimes. It can be frustrating at times. Other times, it can seem like everything falls into place without much of a struggle. But those times are only illusion created by plenty of failures and mistakes. The greatest fiction writer ever (and I’ll leave that for you to name) undoubtedly wrote a lot of terrible stuff that no one wants to read.
A lot of people want to know how I learned to write, and this is always what I tell them. I learned to write by writing. I allowed myself to stumble and fall. Even now, as an accomplished novelologist (if I do say so myself), I still find the only time I can’t write is when I don’t give myself that permission. Yes, even as brilliant as I am, I write a lot of stuff I don’t like. I just don’t bother showing it to you.
So if you want to be good at anything, accept you’re going to fall on your face, and never forget that each fall might be embarrassing, but if you keep at it, you just might learn how to be decent at it. Heck, you might even be great.
Also, just a reminder that A. LEE MARTINEZ APPRECIATION DAY!! (Jan 12th for all the new A.Leegion members out there) is just around the corner. This year, it falls on a Saturday, so you might want to make a day of it. Just a suggestion.
Oh, and yeah, I’ve started calling my fans the A.Leegion because you’re not truly a successful fantasy writer until your fans have a name for themselves. Feel free to use it in casual conversation, if you so choose. For example:
“Want to do something this weekend?”
“Can’t. I’ve plans for A. LEE MARTINEZ APPRECIATION DAY!! with some of my fellow A.Leegionaires.”
“A. LEE MARTINEZ APPRECIATION DAY!!? This is the first I’ve heard of this compelling new holiday! Tell me more!”
See? Pretty natural, isn’t it?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write some more stuff. It might be great. It might be terrible. But either way, it’s getting written.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,