Monday, August 10, 2009

Just Do It!

Yeah! Easy for the NIKE marketing team to say. On September 1st of last year, I began writing my first novel. Up until then, I had only written a few articles for my high school newspaper, a handful of poems, a couple of short stories, and a zillion journal entries in countless, five-subject notebooks. It was a long-time dream of mine to write a full-length novel, but something kept holding me back. That something was self doubt. After all, I had no formal training in the craft other than the couple of writing courses required for my business degree. I was already short enough on time without adding writing something of that magnitude to my schedule. And, I had all kinds of ideas floating around in my head but no clue how to turn them into a full-length novel. Suddenly, though, these characters appeared in my thoughts, and they wouldn't go away. They kept getting bigger and bigger until they were the only things I could think of. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore, and I gave in. I did exactly what the characters, and NIKE, had been urging me to do for over a decade--JUST DO IT! And, it was the best decision I've ever made. What about you? What pushed you into writing that first novel?


Heather Sunseri said...

I'm not sure what pushed me initially? Isn't that weird? I really don't know what caused that original spark. I can tell you the exact day I began writing and I can tell you that I've loved almost every minute of the time I've spent writing. And I don't like the days when I can't find a single minute to write.

Stephanie Faris said...

I was reading a series of young adult novels and was so intrigued I decided to give it a go. I was 23 or 24 at the time. The books never went anywhere but I've been writing ever since.

Faith said...

NaNoWriMo - that's what pushed me to buckle down and just write an entire novel from beginning to end. It was insane, exhausting, exhilarating... and worth every moment. It was fantastic... and I'll do it again, every year, because it's a great way to get rid of that inner editor and just WRITE! :)

BJW said...

I love this lazy suzan... (hee hee, I'm easily entertained).

Good for you. I really loved reading this. Very inspiring, especially that it was the best decision you ever made.

Years ago, I reclined on a lounge chair in my parents backyard in the sunshine, surrounded by trees and birds. I looked deep into my boyhood brain and memories. Suddenly, out popped a chapter. Been trying to figure out the rest of the story ever since. But there was something about that chapter that I couldn't let go of. Still can't.

Corey Schwartz said...

Wow! I am always amazed when I hear stories of characters appearing in people's thoughts. that NEVER happens to me! I am more of a "forced' writer. I have to go looking for ideas. they don't just find me! You are lucky!

MeganRebekah said...

Self doubt is a crazy thing isn't it? I still get frozen by it, sometimes in the middle of a sentence.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I've always secretly wanted to be a writer. At first I thought the idea came to me a couple years ago, recently I realized that I used to think about it as far back as 10th grade (about 12 years ago). The push didn't come overnight, but rather months of thinking I could do that, I should do that. Then one day just sitting down and doing it. It was the a single sentence that I came up with, and the rest of the story spilled out from there.

Anonymous said...

Well, I had some success with shorter stories, knew "the real money" was in novels, and thought might as well give it a shot. NaNoWriMo was the final push in the novel direction.

Deb said...

I started out much the same way you did, poems, short stories, journals. I was proofreading my son's first novel two years ago, chapter by chapter as he created it. The process was less intimidating after watching his work emerge. One day he told me to get off my butt and write a book. So I did.

Rae said...

Since I am not writing a novel I really can't answer, but I can explain why I blog. I use to write short stories and email them to my best friend. She encouraged me to find an outlet to let others read them. Blogging has become that outlet. In my mind though I think being published would probably be the greatest accomplishment for any writer. Good Luck in your endeavor. You have exceptional talent!!!

Katie Salidas said...

I don't know what finally prompted me to write. I think I just sat down one day and started scribbling. Each day I scribbled a little more untill I had a few chapters written. After that it was probably my internal OCD need to complete it that pushed me the rest of the way.

B.J. Anderson said...

Good to hear it! I think it was organic chemistry that finally got me through my first book. Or maybe it was just the excitement of the idea. Either way, I was ready to get one done, and I wrote it faster than I had ever thought I could. It's in a drawer now, but I'll always give it a little love because I learned so much from it.

J.B. Chicoine said...

Same thing—all those characters careening around inside my head. ‘Imaginary friends’ I call them. I did not realize that once I unleashed them, they would call out their own friends, giving birth to new characters who demanded a voice.

I have many creative outlets—I’m even proficient at several—but nothing compares to writing when it comes to boosting my serotonin levels.

Stephanie McGee said...

My novel writing started out with an idea to write a screenplay for an animated movie about horses.

Then when it was cost-prohibitive to write a screenplay properly I decided I'd write the novel and let a professional do the screenplay.

My book has nothing to do with horses, unless you count the occasional appearance of centaurs.

Lillian Robinson said...

I hadn't seen my best friend in over 25 years! When we finally found each other, we discovered that we shared a common dream... to become published authors. Shortly after that we went shopping together and bought laptops (easier to let the thoughts flow than at the desk)and began our journey. She has gotten sidetracked, but I'm staying the course.

Terri Tiffany said...

I wrote my first book when I owned a bookstore--convinced I could do it like all the other writers did. LOL that was years ago before I really understood what it was all about. Like you, I had the journals etc but my real writing began with articles and the death of a friend.
Now I'm writing a novel because I had a story I needed to tell. I just hope I have:&)

Dawn Simon said...

I remember wanting to be a writer by fourth grade, but character ideas are what got me started on my first novel (in the drawer).

Susan, how ironic that you named yourself Lazy Writer since you are definitely not lazy! Go Susan!

Karen M. Peterson said...

I've been writing stories since I was about 5 years old. And, over the years, I've started and abandoned dozens of "novels."

A couple of years ago, I went on a date with a guy that had just signed up for something called NaNoWriMo. The more he talked about it, the more I thought, "I could totally do that." So I signed up.

I had no idea back then that the program would be so awesome and that I would make some amazing real life friends in the process.

And I think it's cool that at least two other commenters above me also mentioned NaNo. I think every aspiring writer should try it at least once. It's the best thing I ever did.

Kimbra Kasch said...

My kids were heading off to college and I was ... a little lost. Centered my life on them for about 20 years - it was time to take back my own life and be ME rather than Jake, Luke and Kara's Mom.

I've made a lot of wonderful friends. :) even some from other countries. :)

Lori said...

I love the "Just do it" slogan. I think is brilliant. Almost as brilliant and L'Oreal's "Because I'm worth it." It is so wonderful when we can leave behinds the doubs and fears. I started writing because I always thought that what I was meant to do, but for a long time I thought I needed to become wise enough. Until one day when the stars aligned and I had everything I thought I needed.

Patti said...

I always wanted to be a writer, but it wasn't until five years ago that I got serious about it and completed my first novel. I've been submitting and editing every since. Recently I've started some new projects, which has renewed my love of writing.

Jill Kemerer said...

Congratulations!! Almost a year since you made that terrific decision. Wow!! I have no formal training either, but I do have a healthy Nike attitude, so I guess that forced me to write.

Keep me posted on your progress!

Susan R. Mills said...

I don't like those days when there's no time to write either. I usually try to squeeze some in even if I have to stay up really late to do it.

Reading other books also played a huge part in making me want to write. I love books!

I need to try the NaNoWriMo. It would force the inner editor out, wouldn't it?

Those childhood memories (well teenage for me) are where my story lines come from, too. That's one reason I chose to write YA.

Don't get me wrong, I have to force the writing sometimes, too.

Self-doubt can be crippling!

Struggling Writer,
Ah, the money factor! I see how you are! :)

So writing runs in the family, does it?

You always have the kindest things to say. Thank you!

I have a little of that OCD myself.

Jody Hedlund said...

I've been writing since I was a little girl and always had the dream of writing a book and in fact, wrote many when I was younger. Over the years my books have just gotten longer and hopefully better!

Susan R. Mills said...

My first will probably end up in a drawer, too, but for now, I can't put it away. I've started other projects, but I still edit and revise a little on the first one.

I love it! "Imaginary people!" They seem so real, though, don't they?

Centaurs? Sounds interesting!

Stick with it!

I can't wait to read it!

I actually did a whole post about why I called myself Lazy Writer. Maybe I need to put a link to it in my side bar for those who are wondering.

Yes, several of you mentioned NaNoWriMo. I am considering doing it. It couldn't hurt, right?

Writing is also something I do for myself. It's important to me.

I love it when the stars align!

Keep perservering!

I will keep you posted. You do the same!

Susan R. Mills said...

I am sure writing was good back then, too, but I bet it's much better now! :)

Anonymous said...

I wrote short short stories for an online critique group, and I started using the same characters repeatedly. It got to where people were waiting to see what would happen next! And I got really attached to them as well, so I used all those pieces like scenes and wrote around them, filling in the blanks.

Eventually and ironically, those scenes that started me writing a book were the ones that got edited out. That was really hard to let go of, but necessary. I think I kept one, just out of spite... :)

Roni Loren said...

I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. Honestly, what prompted me was that I was super shy, angsty, boyfriendless, and looking for love. Ha. So I wrote my own love story and was too naive to consider that I couldn't do it. I finished it at about 150 typed pages. I wish I still had it, I'm sure it'd be worth a good laugh.

Then I took a long break where i would dabble in writing, but never tackle anything. What made me try again was when I started staying home with my son last year. I felt mentally stagnant after being used to working and decided that it couldn't hurt to try. So I did. And I'm so happy I made that decision.

Kelsey (Dominique) Ridge said...

The first time I wrote a novel, the idea came to me in a phsyics class, so I naturally had time to kick it around and try it out. I figured, why not?

Lesley said...

I'm still waiting for characters to appear in my brain. If they could also bring a plot with them, I would really appreciate it. Till then, I'll just amuse myself with blogging! I really admire the tenacity that it takes to complete a novel - published or otherwise.

Kelly H-Y said...

That is so cool! I love that it just filled your head ... I was chatting with a neighbor friend of mine, who is also a writer, and she explained it the same way. As a children's picture book writer and someone who adores writing personal-essay type articles, I generally have an idea of what I want to say, and then go from there.

Tess said...

Look at me, lucky follower number 100 - wa-hoo. I don't know why I think that's fun, but I do :)

It's been a long road for me - 6 years, 3 novels and I just recently snagged an agent and am working with him towards a contract. Sheesh, I'm slow at these things, but am glad I have (and continue to) hang in there!

Susan R. Mills said...

What a great story! I had cutting scenes, too. But sometimes, they really have to go!

Sixteen? I'm impressed!

Really! Why not?

They tend to disappear at times, too, but I put them to good use when they're hanging around.

Kelly H-Y,
It is very cool when it happens, but I feel lost when it isn't!

Congratulations! I feel like I should give you some kind of a prize. Oh, and congrats on finding an agent, too. That's great! Keep me posted on what happens! Wishing you luck!

Krista Phillips said...

A package in the mail. Three months later, my first novel was written. :-)

kah said...

Great minds create alike! :)I would have never imagined I'd finish a novel. But I did, and it was all beyond my control. The characters left me no choice but to write.

Danyelle L. said...

I've always written. It's just what I do. I was also queen of unfinished projects. Then, when my husband was in boot camp/tech school, I found that writing helped preserve a certain bit of sanity. I finished two novels in a sixth month period. Neither are fit to be seen in public, but they showed me that I could finish what I'd started. And gave me the confidence I'd need when I saw a girl with yellow hair, staring with horror in the mirror because she'd just been turned into a bird.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I was young, barely a teenager. But I knew I love stories. I love to read and love to create. I used to think up stories on the spot to tell my sister. Sometimes they'd be so long I'd have to tell them for many nights to reach the conclusion. It all started with a love for inventing new worlds...and grew from there.

Tabitha Bird said...

I love that slogan of Nike's, but like you I struggle to 'just do it'. I have written a memoir and am half way through another non-fiction book. I have also written countless short stories, but the novel thing evades me somewhat. Lately there has been a girl showing up in my head and I think she has things to say and a life to live.... that is probably where I will start.

Susan R. Mills said...

I'm curious. What kind of package?

Of course creative minds think alike! Those characters just won't leave us alone, will they?

You have my interest. A girl becoming a bird? I can't wait to read it!

What a great memory! I bet your sister cherishes the stories you told her.

Listen to the girl! Just Do It!