Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing. Thinking is great. Doing is better. To encourage you to keep writing, I’d like to share a few excerpts from an interview Carol Smallwood did with me about my new book, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. The title says it all, but the memoir says it in so much more detail.
When I started making notes for the book, while Richard and I were dating, I was filled with “what ifs.”
- What if this wasn’t the real deal?
- What if I lost my identity and my money—not that I had an overwhelming amount.
- What if I couldn’t live with 62-years of being alone?
I journaled about these questions and much more. Writing gave me perspective and insight. We got married on February 17, 2012.
Once the book came out, it was time for interviews. Carol Smallwood, a prolific librarian, asked some great questions, and I was happy to answer them. I loved it when she asked, “From working closely with writers, what advice would you give someone struggling with getting started as a writer?
So here are A Dozen Flexible Rules for Struggling Writers:
- Write daily. Start by writing for 10-20 minutes.
- Give yourself permission to get lost in your writing
- Write about whatever you want, and if one day you want to write a list, start there.
- Go wherever the writing takes you. No one ever has to read it but you.
- When you are done, reread what you’ve written and underline 2-3 places that have energy for you.
- Pick one the next day that you really like and start there.
- Or write another list.
- Or write about whatever is on your mind.
- Can’t write? Read a story.
- Look at how professionals put a story together.
- Go back to your journal and say what you liked about the story.
- Let the writing go wherever it wants before repeating Steps 5 & 6.
Start anywhere! Writing daily matters. Your techniques will improve. So will the speed at which you get ideas.
I’ve been writing Monday through Friday for the last 6 weeks or so. Theoretically, I write first thing in the morning—but I usually do some stretches, feed Eddie McPuppers, and pour a cup of coffee before I start. Usually, I write for 10 minutes, but I often go longer. Then polish for another 15-20. I started doing this to help me get back on track after publishing Never Too Late. I don’t consider myself a struggling writer, but this helps so much that I recommend it anytime anyone gets in a slump.
NOTE: If you defy rules:
- Quitting is not an option.
- Doodling is not an option.
- Checking the Internet or my e-mail is not an option.
If I could get going a little earlier, I’d start looking at the flash fiction, flash memoir, and potential for longer stories in this eclectic collection I’m building. You have to have the material before you can start shaping it, and I feel more and more ready to shape and sculpt my stories every day.
As a woman I heard speak recently said, “Write, revise, send, and repeat.” I think I’ve got the first two down. It’s time to start practicing send and repeat, and see where those steps take me.
If you’d like to read Carol’s interview with me and learn more about Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, go to www.writeradvice.com.
Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com. Her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62 was released in December. She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.
Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and she is an editor, writer and manuscript coach at Writer Advice.