So You Wanna Write? Part 1: Let’s Be Real

hate-writingAt the time of this writing the only difference between you and me is that I have one published book under my belt. That may sound like a world of difference to you, but it’s really not. All that means is that I’ve written more pages than you on one conclusive story, followed some advice by attending a local writer’s group, met a local guy who publishes books, sent him my manuscript, and he sent me a contract.

That’s the birth of The Man in the Box.

Here’s how it didn’t work. I didn’t send my completed manuscript to five agents, and I didn’t get ten phone calls the next day begging me to become their client (instead, I got over 300 rejections).

The local news didn’t call me when I tweeted, “Book one: Done” (I didn’t have a Twitter account, yet).

Fox News, CNN, NBC, ABC – none of them ran an exclusive story on me (no one informed them).

Barnes and Noble didn’t stay open until midnight in order to meet the demand of the release of my book (though Borders did close that week … they were that adamant about not carrying it).

That’s why these posts will be good for you. I’m not some celebrity, nor an overnight bestselling author (though, hopefully I will be by the time these posts are published and you’re reading them on your Kindle or in a hardback edition).

I’m in the same boat as you, fighting the same war on writer’s blocks, apathetic agents, and elite publishers.

I’m only one step ahead of you, and I’m offering you my help – any help I can give.

In these posts about writing, I’m not going to sugarcoat anything. There’s nothing really to romanticize about writing. Face it, it stinks. It’s a poor man’s passion.

Most of us write because we’re not good at anything else. We know how to sit and weave structured sentences together and we deceive ourselves into thinking that someone will want to pay us to keep doing that which we were taught to do while we were picking our noses in grade school.

In these posts you’re not going to hear me say, “Follow your dreams” or “If you believe in yourself enough, you’ll accomplish your goals.” If that’s the kind of crap you’re looking for, scroll down your Facebook feed for a minute or two and you’ll get your fix of shallow sap.

But if you’re looking to roll up your sleeves, face the ugly realities of writing life, take the undaunted risks, and get down to  business, then these posts will be right up your alley.

Let me just conclude this section by saying this:

If I was talented or skilled at anything else but writing, I would be doing that.

Let’s be honest here, I hate writing. I really do.

But I love telling stories, and I’m good at it (I can say that because there’s very little else I can brag about, except that I make awesome pizza).

Give me a Canon XA20 and a film crew and I’d tell my stories through film (I used to be a moviemaker until it became too expensive and I became too poor).

Heck, give me a scholarship to Yale or Harvard and I’d gladly take up law (I love to act).

But for some ridiculous reason I have it built in me to tell stories, and writing is the most affordable way to do so.

I’d much rather be a plumber, but I don’t have the hands for it.

I’d love it if I were a painter, but I don’t have the eye for it.

It’d be great if Nike would sponsor me to run, but I don’t have the legs for it.

But sadly, I’m a writer. But I’m also a storyteller, and thankfully I’ve been given the heart for it. And luckily those two go hand-in-hand.

The problem is, I don’t have time to write. But because I have the heart to tell stories, I make time.

And I’m going to show you how you can, too.

Next: Part 2 – Why Write?

About Andrew Toy
Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

56 Responses to So You Wanna Write? Part 1: Let’s Be Real

  1. I think what I heard is true, attributed to Tom Clancy. He said there is no such thing as writer’s block, only laziness. Someone else told me, “write one page a day and you got a novel at years end”. Thanks for the post!

  2. Katherine Rebekah says:

    Perhaps writing is “the poor mans passion” and maybe most won’t become rich and famous doing it, but there is something noble about telling a story. In many cultures the story tellers were the most respected in there community. Why? Honestly, I can’t say. All I know is that there is something magical about what we do. Its not about the money, or recognition, or even getting published. Its just about the story.

    • Claude Crowe says:

      I love hearing this sort of sentiment expressed and sure do hope there is something noble about writing fiction. It would help make it all seem worthwhile 🙂 I guess one of the things that made me passionate about writing fiction is that I think you find truth and meaning in it.

    • Well said. Thank you.

  3. S dot Love says:

    I love sharing stories with other people as well, but the physical act of writing can feel like such a chore sometimes! I’m well into my first fiction novel and as happy as I am with my progress, there are days that I dread tapping away at my keyboard to put words to paper. The agony. Haha.

  4. H.Fields says:

    I’m interested to see where you go with this. However, I feel as if I’m the opposite of you. I adore writing and telling stories, but I find that when I attempt to put my words to paper they become mixed and jumbled. This, in turn, makes me doubt my ability. It will be nice to read what you struggle with in the topsy turvy world of writing and how you approach it. Being real is absolutely essential.

  5. Love telling stories and I self-published my novel. Those that read it liked it–one thought it was downright brilliant. That was such a high for me. I don’t have visions of grandeur, but I do love sharing the stories in my head. You give sound advice. 🙂

  6. I must be an authorial masochist. I’ve come to enjoy revisions by focusing on the good it does for the stories. While I look forward to a time when my writing rakes in some green, I temper my urge to share by keeping my expectations tempered with several levels of work.

    Excellent advice in the article, though. It wasn’t until I committed to a writing group and actively participated in peer critique that I found a comfort zone and confidence.

    I’ve still got a long way to go, but I can see my goals on the horizon.

  7. Exactly!!

    Storytelling has simply got to be at the center of writing (unless you’re a poet; in which case you only have to make storytelling the center of your writing peripherally; but you still have to know what a story is, what it’s for, and why writing a non narrative poem better serves your purpose than a story would).

    Writing a sentence, an image or a mood is much easier to learn than writing a story. And yet, so many writing workshops never address the story aspect of writing. If you’re a natural at that; you’re well-ahead of the pack.

  8. Dyane says:

    ‘If that’s the kind of crap you’re looking for, scroll down your Facebook feed for a minute or two and you’ll get your fix of shallow sap.’ I love that. Honesty is the best policy and I appreciate you telling it like it is.

  9. lcav says:

    Thank you for posting this James. I like reading about the realities of writing. Can you tell me what you use for writing in terms of laptop, PC, Mac? What do most people prefer? I only ask because I am having issues with my new Mac. I am used to Microsoft Word, but thought maybe I just need to give it time.

  10. pamelaanne68 says:

    Reblogging — this is excellent, and I’m looking forward to Part 2!

  11. pamelaanne68 says:

    Reblogged this on pamelaanne68 and commented:
    This is a great read, please take a look!

  12. Love the post… Candid and honest without crap. I like someone who has succeded in getting there work out there to find it’s not all sunshine and roses but then willing to talk about it. Someone like me, who is looking to get my work on display can learn a lot from what you say. Thanks for the post. Also Youtube Black Books and watch a scene with the main character Bernard Black, its a sitcom but also another man who isn’t afraid to tell it how is it (o:

  13. Mary says:

    A cut to the chase post! Love it 🙂

  14. mrshate says:

    Cannot wait to follow the progression here of your thoughts!!!

  15. janennepung says:

    I write and edit for pay daily. I tell stories, promote communities and business and even churn out the technical copy needed to inform an industry. Yet, it’s not enough. I long to tell stories that make people think and feel in a less practical, but more relevant way. I will read on.

  16. jamesfantbooks says:

    You have to make time for writing or anything that you love doing. You have to find lost time that is usually stolen by the television or even the commute. When you become vigilant about finding the time, it will appear. And shouldn’t you make time for the things that you love?

  17. I love this. First, I spit my wine through my nose at the Borders comment. Second, I’m working on my first sci-fi story and need all the help I can get. Fortunately, I’ve got a well paying day job so for me the drive is just to get these damned stories out of my head.

    I’ll be following this series of posts most closely.

    • I hope the wine wasn’t too fermented 🙂 could have stung like crazy! But yes, keep your day job – even after you’re published, because, as you’ll learn later in this series, writing is 5%, getting published is another 3% – still a long way to go.

  18. Pingback: So You Wanna Write Part 3: Why Write? | adoptingjames

  19. Jill Rogat says:

    I was nodding my head the entire time I read your blog. I have one published book and yet there was no pomp and circumstances because I’m not anyone famous. Writing is my passion and life but sometimes I also hate the process and just want to tell the story. And yes, I am ready to roll my sleeves up and dive in!

  20. Pingback: …But why writing? | What Keeps Me Up At Night

  21. Pingback: So You Wanna Write Part 5: What to Write | adoptingjames

  22. Sad but true! Just yesterday I was thinking how lovely and liberating it would be to quit but there’s no escape from the stories inside my head. Looking forward to reading the rest,
    –Eileen Slovak, Author of “Secret Agent of God”

  23. Ed Rybicki says:

    I’m really good at writing novels. Really: VERY good. In fact, I’m writing three of them right now – it’s just the finishing the goddamn things that’s so hard!

    Nice blog. I have taken heart. I’ll stick to my day job, though B-)

  24. Kat Canfield says:

    Reblogged this on Thoughts of Kat Canfield and commented:
    As a writer, I understand where this author comes from. His thoughts are worth exploring. Enjoy!

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