Them: “What do you do for a living?”
Me: “I write mystery novels.”
Them: “Ooh! I’ve always wanted to write a book.”
Me: “So why don’t you?”
If I had a nickel for every time I heard this, I wouldn’t have to write books for a living.
But seriously, I hear this all the time. We are all born storytellers. That’s not a mystery. So what stops people from putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and writing that story that’s been kicking around in the brain?
The reasons vary, of course, but they usually boil down to not having enough time or not knowing how to do it. Sound familiar?
I put off my author journey until I retired. No longer is time an issue. Heck, I got nothing but time. Oh, except for travelling, seeing my grandkids, running my reselling business, watching shows on Netflix, etc. If you love something, you’ll make time for it.
The second reason, the one about knowing how to write, is a little trickier. What I find is that most people who want to write are already readers. If you can read, you can write. Does that mean you’ll be a master craftsman? Of course not. No one comes out of the womb being able to write a bestseller.
Except Stephen King. But then, he’s a freak of nature that way. For the rest of us, it’s a matter of practice, study, and improvement. To quote Tom Hanks from A League of Her Own, “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that make it great.”
A woman recently told me she had an idea for a story but didn’t know how to start it. My advice is simple: Start with, “Once upon a time…” You’ll delete this phrase later, of course, but it’s the easiest way to begin. If you have an idea about “someone” who “wants something” but faces an “obstacle” in getting it, then you have the makings of an interesting story.
Writing is another way to tap into your creative side. Even if all you do is get the story down on paper and read it to your dog—strike that. Dogs are too hyper to sit still that long—read it to your cat instead. You will be better off for having done it.
If your cat gives you two paws down, you can always feed it to the paper shredder. No one will be the wiser.
I wonder if Stephen King even knows what a paper shredder is.