So, we’ve all been at this for… what, a couple months now? Well over a year since I made that very first post, by my count. Of course, I took some time off so I can hardly point the finger if you did, too.
Anyway, let’s not nitpick. There’s not much time before the New Year and we’ve got important stuff to discuss.
What have you written so far?
I don’t want you to talk about what you’ve planned. Not interested in any great ideas you’ve had. Don’t care who you had lunch with, what clever software you bought, or what fascinating research you’ve done.
The question is, what have you written?
Easy question, right? How many words have you set down on paper? How many new Word documents or Final Draft files have been created on your computer since you first looked at this half-witted, rambling set of rants I call a blog?
At the end of the day, this is the first marker you have to pass if you want to be a writer. You have to write.
If you’re still getting around to it, playing with a few things, or trying to find the right time when you’re in the right mood—you’re not a writer. You’re one of those folks in the coffee shop who wears a beret, puts on a fake accent, and loves to tell anyone who’ll listen about how everything put out by Hollywood and the big publishers is complete crap and, oh, the fantastic work you would share with the world except there’s no one else as brilliant you to understand it.
Okay, you’re probably not that bad…
Stop and ask yourself, though. If you keep looking here and you haven’t written anything… why not? What’s been holding you back? What are you waiting for? Because believe me, it never gets any easier. If you can’t find the resolve to even get started, do you really think you’re going to be able to keep at it long enough to finish a novel? Or a screenplay? Heck, even just a short story?
Again, what it all comes down to is the writing. If you want to call yourself a writer, you have to write. That’s it. Not just talk about it. Not buy books or software to help you do it. It doesn’t even count if you read ranty blogs about writing.
The joy of this little failing, though, is it’s easy to fix. Just go sit down at your desk and write. That’s all it takes.
In the past year or so since I started taking this collection of rants somewhat seriously, I’ve paid the rent by writing a few dozen articles for Creative Screenwriting (including one about comic book movies I was pretty happy with). I got to interview a bunch of heavyweight filmmakers like David Goyer, Kevin Smith, and Zack Snyder. I also did a bunch of film and DVD reviews (and let me save you the trouble—Scorpion King 2 is just not worth it. Don’t sink to that level. You deserve better, seriously).
I’ve also written four short stories, two of which are being published next year in two separate anthologies. At the moment I’m working on two more which are both past the halfway mark.
I placed in three different screenwriting contests with my script Reality Check. It’s sort of a sci-fi, metafiction, comedy film. With giant monsters and spaceships. And enough genre references to make a geek’s head explode.
And there was the novel, Ex-Heroes, which was written in its entirety this year. It started out as a mild rant to a friend and then mixed with a few superheroes I’d made up back in high school. I got the contract from the publisher today, and if all goes well it’ll be on book shelves, Amazon, and Oprah’s reading list sometime next year.
Oh. And I managed to post here two or three times a month pretty faithfully. Well, until the eggnog showed up and productivity dropped to a crawl.
Now, granted, I’m in that lucky small percentage of folks who does this full time, but really there’s no real excuse for not writing. Stephen King wrote Carrie while he was teaching high school. David Goyer wrote his first screenplay while he was fetching coffee and making copies as an office PA. Clive Cussler started his long-running Dirk Pitt series (Raise the Titanic ring a bell?) while he was doing ad copy.
We must write.
Make that your New Year’s resolution. A page a day. Just one page. A mere two hundred and fifty words if you double-space. If you can write one page a day, you’ll have a short story by the end of January, a screenplay by the time May rolls around, or a solid novel this time next year. All that, out of just one measly page a day.
Happy New Year to all nine of you reading this.
Now go write that page.