Friday, April 29, 2011

A to Z Challenge: You CAN Do It.

This post isn't really for those already writing, but I'm hoping that you guys will also leave some encouragement and advice in the comments. Pretty please?

So... That leave the rest of you. It is so easy to classify man-kind into three kinds of people: Those who write, those who want to write and those who don't.

I want to have a quick chat with those of you who are in the second group.

Firstly, I want to ask: Why aren't you writing? You want to. If my own experience is any indication, you have a great big urge to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Are you worried that you won't be good enough?  Well... how do you know? Even if you have tried, things can be incredibly murky. Judging your own work is difficult. More so if you've never been called on to do it before. Also, there's another aspect to this situation. Yes your work might suck now (perhaps. I don't believe that first attempts have to suck.), but have you ever noticed the vast amount of advice and help available to you at your fingertips?

In fact: Here's an offer you can't refuse. My month of May is wide open until I have to start editing. If you want, you're more than welcome to send me some of your work to critique. It will be highly educational (it's still teaching me) and you don't have to worry that your work will find its way to my blog. The crits will be handled 100% confidentially. If you're interested, feel free to contact me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com. You can also use that address to send me any writing-related question that you might have.

In the mean-time, here's some advice that I've learned over my multiple efforts:

1) You CAN do it. Don't listen to internal and external voices telling you that you can't.
2) Speaking of which. Unless you are sure that you can handle a lot of negativity, tell only people you trust that you are writing.
3) You have to tell someone though. Support is imperative. Even if you start blogging.
4) If you're blogging, make sure to connect with other writers.
5) The writing rules are in fact guidelines. Play with them. Stretch them.
6) But never convince yourself that you're writing Shakespeare. Those above experiments can go very wrong too. The trick is to learn the balance.
7) Read agents' blogs to see what they love and hate and why.
8) Read. Period. If you don't read, you can't write.
9) Find what works best for you. Do you plot? Do you fly by the seat of your pants? Or do you combine the two?
10) Writing is firstly for you. If you are happy when you write, you are a writer. No matter how many pages someone else writes per day. No matter how young that other blogger is when she got her book deal. Your journey as a writer will differ from everyone else's. And that means that there isn't room for comparison.

So... I've kitted you out with some of the most important lessons that I've learnt - the hard way. You're already ahead.

What's keeping you from writing?

For my writing buddies, do you have any more advice to add? For someone who wants to write, what would you like to know? If I get enough questions, I might address it in May's posts. Feel free to contact me. :-) Also, just want to let you know that I will be giving away a book on writing in May, so be sure to come back for a chance to win!


  1. Misha you've built a comprehensive writing kit!

    I'd just add that No 10 is the most important: when you write, never compare yourself to others.There will always be better or worse writers than you. Your voice is unique and the only worhwhile comparison is to ask yourself "is this story better than the last one I wrote?" If the answer is yes, you know you're learning your craft. If the answer is no, you need to do more work.
    Judy, South Africa

  2. I completely encourage anyone who has ever wanted to write, but has been too scared or has told themselves, "Just don't have the time", at least devote 20 mins a day to it. Come on, 20 mins!! That's nothing!

  3. A terrific book for those you want to write but are feeling held back for whatever reason is "The Right to Write" by Julia Cameron. It's wonderful for all writers, too, for every writing phase you're in!

  4. When folly befalls those who doubt their writing prowess, think of the woman, named Stephanie, who turned her silly little dream into millions.

    If that doesn't help, I don't know what will. :D

    Have a great weekend, and HURRAH to the Royal Couple, William and Kate!

  5. Lovely encouragement! I have no problem with writing--it's calling myself a writer that I struggle with. I'm thinking you're going to get swamped with editing requests! Have fun!

  6. Great list. And remember to read in your genre. It sounds obvious, but there are so many YA writers who have NEVER read a YA book before. They heard YA is doing well and jumped on the bandwagon. :P

  7. I'm not a writer - I'm a textile artist. But still, most of your advice is very, very true. I would love to underline No 1 - YOU CAN DO IT ! It's my number 1 advice, too, whenever somebody asks me. So, thanks for sharing your list!

  8. My favorite piece of advice when I first started out writing was the first draft doesn't matter. Don't stress if it sucks, has sudden jumps, drop subplots midway through. Just get the story down so you can polish out the quirks/holes after you're done. Or you'll never finish writing it.

  9. I have no advice to give other than get a word processor. Anyone can write I guess. That doesn't mean I want to read what everyone wrote. I guess there needs to be standards? lol I dunno. It's just the truth.

  10. I do this A-Z thing so that I can do more writing. I love poetry and I think that I have really come far with my style. Even my prose has improved. I hope to continue writing regularly.

  11. Hi Misha,
    Yes, it's me. Haven't had the privilege of you visiting my shy and humble site, for quite some time.
    Anyway, as I have mentioned, several times on your blog, nothing keeps me from writing. I write when it suits me. I write for two people, me and for the one person who is reading whatever I have written. I never, ever think of myself as writing to an audience.
    I am so glad that this 'challenge' that so many of you have be doing, is finally ending.
    Hope you have a peaceful and positive weekend. Happy writing :)
    Your shy and humble friend, Gary, over at his unassuming blog :)

  12. There is no way anyone can trip around in the blogosphere and not 1)Catch the writing bug and 2)Feel encouraged to take the plunge. I have been blogging since last June when I jumped in head first without really knowing anything about it at all. I have learned and continue to learn so much about this community and writing...and myself. So glad to have dropped in. I plan to check out many or your other A-Z posts.

  13. Judy, that's a great of advice! That's how I measure my progress as a writer.

    Trish, that's so true. 20 mins seems like very little, but if you do 20 mins worth of writing every day you can get a lot done. Especially considering that writing rates tend to increase with practice.

    Laura, I love that book! While I didn't apply all of the suggestions she made, I learnt some tricks from her that lead to my getting further with my writing than I ever had before. In fact, one of the reasons why I blog is that it replaces my morning pages. ^_^

    T.D. that's so true. Especially given that she never wrote a book before. ^_^ I'm also so happy for Prince William and Princess Catharine. She looked so pretty!

    Sarah, if you love writing, you're a writer. Start referring to yourself as such in your mind. You'll be amazed by how quickly that mindset change happens. ^_^

    Stina that's very true. It links with another tip I forgot to put in. Write something that YOU will enjoy reading. After all, we spend so much time with the story that spending time on something we don't love won't do us any favors. And, then reading other books in the genre as procrastination counts as constructive diversions. ;-)

    Quil, textile artistry sounds facinating! I agree. Rule number 1 counts for everything in life. I firmly believe that people have uncapped potential that is limited only by our imagination and the belief we have in ourselves and the trust we have in God.

    Same here, Steph. I used to be very hung up on the quality of my first drafts. In fact, I wrote two versions of Doorways on computer until Julia Cameron's book (mentioned above) mentioned that I was killing my story's soul. That's when I bought my first notebook and pen, so that I COULD not press delete.

    Michael, there are standards, but people shouldn't use those standards as an excuse not to write. They're there for us to measure against to find room for improvement.

    Marjorie, I hope you continue to write. It truly is a wonderful way to go through life. If you think I'm kidding, find something that's bothering you and write three or so pages about it. I'm 90% sure that you'll feel better and/or find the solution. These's just something about getting something onto the page. Good luck!

    Hi Gary! I will hit your blog tomorrow. Pinky promise. :-) I write my first draft like that. For me first and then for my gran, who can put my attention on some aspects that I don't think of. :-)Hope you're having a wonderful weekend.

  14. Hi Pam! Thanks for stopping by! I agree with you. This little corner of the blogosphere gives so much inspiration and support that it's impossible to not want to write at least a little. ^_^

  15. I kinda fit into the second category as well. I've always wanted to be a novelist, but I just have no idea what to write about.. There's total confusion over genre, plot, characters, setting, and everything else. I love writing, and I'm pretty sure that I won't suck that bad, but I still haven't started writing.. :( :( What do you think? :|

  16. Pencil, I think you should go for it! Those issues tend to sort themselves out once you decide to start a novel. At least, they did for me, more than once. :-D

  17. I do write, but I don't think it is marketable. I have one where this abused girl is treated with a memory erasing drug on this island by a handsome shrink because, of course, the drug is not FDA approved. I also wrote one about a depressed suicidal. I'm too heavy & need to lighten up I know. The girl on the island becomes a whole new person who is innocent and wanting intimacy, & the shrink and his faithful employee can't handle it. Which man will she chose is the concept.

  18. Hey Misha ~~ I really loved this post ! I have always been a reader , first & foremost !! The writing bug has been lying dormant for decades ... simmering gently ... until it reared its (ugly?)head about 6 months ago . So I'm a LATE bloomer , very very late . As result , I feel I need to make up for lost time . I have been visiting tons of blogs and reading a variety of tips/hints/do's/dont's/blah ... blah ... blah ... and I've been writing as much as possible . I know I'm a fairly decent writer . I know I want to write a novel . I have ideas . But I don't know where to from here ... I've heard words such as beta & critique etc.
    Sorry for the ramble ... Should I join a writing club ? Can you advise me ?


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