Act Before You Think

On a Facebook writers group I'm a member of, someone started a discussion by asking who among us were Indies, who were traditionally published, and who were "authors in waiting." I suspected the term "author in waiting" to be someone with a completed manuscript who was waiting to either secure a literary agent, or a publishing deal. Tons of writers chimed in with their status. Most people stuck to one of those three options, or a soon-to-be-added fourth: hybrid author (someone who has both traditionally published and self-published).

Tucked into the litany of responses was this comment: I am contemplating writing a novel.

That slowed my rapid scrolling to a dead stop.

I immediately thought about all the things that one should carefully consider before doing:

  • Rollerblading across a freeway.
  • Handing a grizzly bear a hotdog.
  • Climbing your roof to clean the gutters.
  • Using a fork to remove a stuck bagel from the toaster.

Something you should not consider before doing: writing a book. I am not typically pessimistic, but when I read that comment I thought: that person is never going to write a book.

Writing a book is something that should occur to you after you're about half-way through. Like, one day you're on a train with your laptop out, plucking at keys faster than the ambulance will thrust you to the ER after you've stuck a fork in the toaster. A good three or four months should go by, or 37,438 words, before you realize you are writing a book.

"Oh my gosh! What is this?? What am I doing??"

You should have already missed a couple of important dates, like that lunch plan with a friend or the rent check due date, or, even better for your book, your brother's wedding.

I am contemplating writing a book said no writer ever. It does no author any good to have really nice sentences in their mind. Get it out of your head. Write it down. Even if it's the worst idea in the universe of ideas. Or the most awful writing anyone will ever (not) see. It's okay. Once it's out of your head and in black and white, that's when you can see it. And read it. And speak it. That's when it's tangible. And real. And that's when you can change it.

No one writes their final draft first.

If you're afraid to start writing because you're afraid it's gonna be bad, I've got news for you. That first draft is gonna reek. At least parts of it will. Everyone's has moments of stinkiness. It's an occupational hazard. If you can't take the smell, get out of the cheese shop. (I just made that up. Pretty bad, right? But I'm gonna leave it there because it's impossible to edit a blank page.)

Rush into it, I say! Don't stop even before you start. There'll be plenty of opportunity to stop along the way. Trust me. When writing, act before you think. Regret doesn't come from writing something. It comes from not writing something.

Tags: #amwriting, #writingtips, #books, author, writer, creative life, #justdoit

Eva Lesko Natiello is the author of New York Times and USA Today Bestseller, THE MEMORY BOX, a psychological thriller about a woman who Googles herself and discovers the shocking details of a past she doesn't remember.

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