Writing in the midst of ghosts and sword-wielding robots, or how to avoid being a wanna-be author

I found myself today at Oddmall: Emporium of the Weird

It is a regular event in Akron, in which all sorts of weird people gather to be weird together. There is comic book weird, cosplay weird, anime weird, Halloween weird, gender-bender weird, science fiction weird, Lovecraft weird — everyone just embraces their own weirdness and avoids judging everyone else’s weirdness. It is a cool thing. 

My wife goes to sell jewelry. My kid goes to see her cosplaying friends. I go to find weird fiction. 

This week, though, I returned to the world of mundane employment, and it has derailed my fiction writing routine a bit. So I took my iPad to Oddmall, and figured I could find a quiet spot to sit and write for a spell when I wasn’t minding the jewelry stand or plucking up horror and science fiction novels.

Well, it wasn’t easy to write in that environment. There was some kind of magic show on stage at the John S. Knight Convention Center, the occasional Boba Fett sighting and people whose costumes beeped and blipped. The costumed throngs were a distraction, and most of the younger folks were having much louder fun than I was.

It was all too distracting to allow a fresh current of fiction to flow, but I was able to read what I already had written and edit that. I also added details, new dialogue and descriptive passages in small doses throughout the existing 7,000 words — and ended with an additional 1,000 words even though I didn’t venture into a new chapter.

Writing got done, even though I was sleepy and distracted.

I mention all this to point out that small steps eventually get you where you want to go, even if you have to step over stuff. The novel I am trying to sell now, a mystery-thriller called “The Bloody Black Flag,” was written largely in doses of 1,000 to 2,000 words. Most of that was done in the wee hours after my wife and daughter had gone to bed, and I squeezed in as much writing as I could before I started getting sleepy, too. Most times, a thousand words or so was about all I could muster. Sometimes, it was a few hundred. But all of those small doses of writing resulted in a novel.

So, if you are among those who wants to write but can’t find the time because you need to earn a paycheck, mow the lawn, walk the dogs, go to Oddmall, pull a gerbil out of the garbage disposal — whatever distracts you — I am here to say write anyway. Write anyway, even if you get only one good solid sentence. Write anyway, even if you aren’t feeling inspired and figure you’ll have to edit it later. Write anyway, even if time allows you only a dozen words.

Do that, because the worst way to write a story is to do it only in your head. Get it on paper, even if it has to be done only a dozen words a day. It will all add up.

It is mere coincidence that I offer this advice on the threshold of National Novel Writing Month. I have friends who will participate in that effort at group inspiration, and the write-even-if-you-don’t-have-time advice definitely applies there. If you are banging out a novel for November, have fun and good luck, and write every day. The real gist of what I am saying here, though, goes beyond NaNoWriMo. 

If you tell yourself you don’t have time to write, you’ll never get past wanting to be a writer. If you write every day, even if the pace is glacial, you are no longer among the millions merely wanting to be a writer.

You are a writer.


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