4 Things I Wished I Knew Before I Started Writing
I started my first novel when I was forty. My wife and I had three kids at the time (the fourth came two years later) and we had just decided to start our own medical practice. I used to write late at night on weekends and early in the morning before work, mostly because I had no other time but also because I was trying to keep the whole thing a secret from my wife. She found out a few months later, however, coming downstairs on a Saturday night catching me scribbling into a green wire-bound notebook. She kissed me on the cheek and went back to bed, but I wished she had told me the following four things, because it took me years to learn the hard way.
1) Writing is the biggest black hole of time ever created. Entire weekends can disappear at
the keyboard. Ask yourself a question before you start a book: Do I have this kind of
time? (And then do it anyway.)
2) It takes a long, long time to break through. I thought I knew this, but I really didn’t. Sit
down, strap in and hang on.
3) The best way to get better at writing is to read and write. Yes, writing conferences and
writing groups help some, but I would classify them more as entertainment than anything
else. If you want to write better, spend the time reading and writing.
4) There is only one worthwhile motive to write: for your personal enjoyment and
fulfillment. If this is not your motive, take up Canasta or curling. I say this because
although you are not going to be the next Cormac McCarthy or JK Rowling, you might
have a lot of fun in the process and learn a lot about who you are.
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