Today in the Dojo: Some hard-won lessons from 30 years of the writing life.
So, kick-ass blogging buddy JT Eberhard is beginning a story. I started reading it expecting the worst, then got sucked in, then decided I will murtilate him if he doesn’t continue. But beginning is hard, and continuing even harder. And I know he’s not the only person who’s got a story begun and is terrified that a) it sucks, b) it’ll be impossible to write, and c) he’ll never, ever have the writing chops to pull it off.
Just wait ’til you hit the “ZOMG this is sooo not original!” phase of your young writing life. Let me just nip that one in the bud right here, right now: No, it’s not. Everything people think of as original is, when boiled down to its essence, an idea that a billion other people have had before. It’s how you execute your ideas that matters. That’s where originality comes from: combining disparate elements and adding your own particular twist to what, on the surface, seems to be a tired old idea done to death.
Right. Now we’ve got that dispensed with, on with it. Let me give you folks who are just getting started a little bit of friendly formerly-Southwestern-but-now-Northwestern advice. Hopefully, by the time you’ve hit the end, you will feel yourself prepared to tackle this beast that is storytelling.
However. There is one question that must be answered before we proceed: must you write this story? Is it forcing its way out of you, rip-claw-tearing away at your brain, keeping you awake at night? Do you find yourself filled with a sense of dread when you contemplate dying before having written it?
If the answer is no, consider carefully before you proceed, because it may not be worth the effort you’ll have to put in.
If the answer is yes, go below. You have no other choice.
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