Question #1: What are some misconceptions people might have about writing?
One misconception people might have is that writing is incredibly easy. Anyone can write words, but not everyone chooses to write a story. Writing requires discipline, patience, and perseverance. The true writer is writing even when he/she is not writing with a pen or keyboard; the writing process is a constant development of story ideas throughout the day—thoughts, impressions, perceptions, and observations. Writing is not easy, but it is a simple process at its core, so it is the wonderfully challenging task of the writer not to over-complicate or joy-drain the writing process.
Another misconception people might have is that writing is incredibly hard. This perception, probably more than any other, keeps would-be writers from persisting to become active writers. Writing is not a talent which is innate at birth and reserved for only special, gifted people; on the contrary, writing is a skill which can be learned, honed, and refined over time. Instead of thinking of the prospect of writing a novel as daunting, the writer can choose to think of novel writing as a process of developing bite-sized individual scenes. Scenes will eventually connect and form chapters, and chapters will become sections of the whole, and eventually a novel will appear. So take heart, your writing is working for you as you simply dedicate yourself to do it!
If you are overwhelmed by how hard being a writer is, break down the wall of “the novel” by writing it in bits and pieces. Small chunks (a page, 5 pages, 10 pages—whatever you deem small enough) are easier to swallow and easier to focus on than tying yourself to your desk chair and setting the goal of “I’m going to write a novel now.” Don’t allow how hard you think writing might be to keep you from simply writing and becoming the writer you want to be.
Question #2: Can you offer any advice for aspiring writers who are having a difficult time completing a book? Did you sit and write everyday (for the book or otherwise) or only when you felt inspired?
My simple advice would be to find what works best for you and feel free to embrace that method. Every writer has a different schedule, style, and season. For me, I had to learn that I am a seasonal writer. For a long time, I struggled with this reality and fought against it. I would try and force myself to write when I was frustrated and exhausted, and the only result I found was more frustration and exhaustion. When ideas are flowing, I write like a mad man. When they are not, I read and continue to cultivate seeds of ideas in the background, but I may not necessarily be sitting at my desk and cranking out pages. Writing, like life, is about finding a healthy balance, so I would recommend practicing different methods and determining which works best for you. I continually find inspiration in life experiences, but I’ve realized that certain seasons are for actual page writing and certain seasons are for brainstorming and Post-It note jotting exclusively. Once you find what works best for you, and not only accept but embrace that method, then you will find a creative freedom that will help you stay refreshed as you develop your craft.
I hope these writing tips over the past few weeks have been encouraging/informative/interesting. Starting next week, we'll take a look at traditional publishing versus self-publishing (cue dramatic music). And so the plot thickens...