George Wier, if you haven’t heard of him, is author of the Bill Travis Mysteries. These days he is spending most of his time hopping around the Southwest doing book signings for Long Fall From Heaven. He still finds time to pop into our online writer’s group.
Last night he shared the following. This beautiful little essay on writing had me thinking of the New York Sun op-ed piece written over a hundred years ago. You know the one I mean. It begins, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
A bit of advice I gave someone yesterday on writing. Maybe I should start paying attention to it myself:
While I would never dissuade you from reading other writers, or reading as much as you can on the subject of writing, I suggest that you dive in head first. As a reader you know what you like to read. I suggest you write exactly what you yourself like to read, and nothing more. Also, you should start writing out of the blue. In fact, get used to writing the moment (if possible) an idea hits you so that what you put down can be raw and true and from the gut. There ARE NO authorities on writing. You are the authority on your OWN writing. Period. So, write for you, first. Second, write a lot. Hone your skills, either over time or through a high degree of output, or both (as it usually works out that way anyway). As far as the “length” of what you should write, forget about length. Right now, at this stage, that’s not even in the equation. A story is it’s own universe, just as I say in the videos. It has it’s own internal laws. And what you write in a story will come out right if you pay ZERO attention to length, or whether there’s too much dialogue, or not enough of this or that, or whatever. Don’t put your attention on anything other than telling the story. And… at BEST, the story will begin to write itself. You’ll know what this feels like when it begins to happen. There is no other feeling quite like it. For me it is like being carried along by a strong current. It has swept you out to the middle of the channel and it is taking you somewhere. It’s best not to fight it, but to instead go along. Don’t bother swimming against the current, or even necessarily WITH the current, and definitely not towards shore. Just tuck your hands behind your head and let that story carry you along. That’s the best advice I can give.
So, Marc, what I want you to do is…today, or tomorrow, or as soon as you can, sit down and write something. And don’t worry about whether it’s good or not. Just write it. For it’s own sake. And that is really all there is. I could teach a seminar for weeks on the subject, but really, it all comes down to just this paragraph. Just…write.
Here’s George again, snuggling with his dog: