Writing Wins and Woes: What I’ve learned from Writing

Writing is a very difficult process. It’s like building a tower. You can’t just start building. You have to have plans. If you just start building, your tower will fall over like kids with blocks. Many people seem to think that if you are a writer, you just sit down and the words just flow out like magic. This is not true. Even the inspiration is hard and thought out. Some of it may come from research, meditation, reading, life experiences or something I’ve heard from somebody else. Not every inspiring thought will develop into a good story. Some just fizzle out.

After the inspirational thought I start working on a plot line. Some think you just begin the story. No, every story has to have a beginning, middle and ending. So the next step is either writing the plot of the story, or thinking it up in my head. Some call this outlining. I never write clear outlines but I do want to know where my story is going so I have a clear picture in my head. Sometimes I even know what my last line of the story is going to be.

After I decide on the plot, I may think some on characters. Every story has to have strong characters. So I may want to decide what kind of personality my characters have. Stories often fail because characters are not developed enough. A lot of times, they are too one sided and flat. They don’t have flaws. Every character should have some flaws or they are not interesting. I often think about the good guys and the bad guys of my stories. Most narratives have these. Bad guys should not be all bad. Good guys should not be all good.

Now, I may start writing. However, it’s only the rough draft. This is often hard for me. I want to stop and improve my story, but I shouldn’t. Rough drafts should flow and they should be rough. I can work on making the story better later. If I spend too much time pouring over the story now, I might get discouraged and quit. I might forget where I’m even going with the story.

When I finish the rough draft, I need to edit. Editing is a large part of story writing and it’s not fun. I have to look for mistakes in spelling, context, tense, characters that say wrong things, or are misnamed. Believe me, I have renamed a character in a story without even wanting to. He may start out Ethan and end up Edward because I forgot his name. I have to cut out words and sentences I don’t need. If I’m honest, this is where the rubber meets the road and where I’m most likely to fail. Nobody likes to edit but it has to be done or the story will most likely be terrible.

Now, you think I’m done,  right? and I could be, but I shouldn’t be. I need somebody to read the finished product. I may need more than one somebody. They should not be someone who likes to pat me on the back but objective enough to tell me where my story stinks. After that wonderful person reads my story, I probably will have to edit again based on their advice. More grueling work I don’t like.

Then I’m done, right? No, I’m not. After all that work, I’m not done. Why? Because I need to let my story lay around a few days and rest. After the few days, I need to pick it up again and re read it. Maybe I like it and that’s great. But maybe I see stuff I don’t like. Now what? Back to editing again.

So, now you see why being a writer is so hard. What am I going to get for all this? You’re probably thinking that I’m going to make money from my story being published. And you think wrong. Nine times out of ten, my story will never be published, even if it’s good. Because I need to find the right publisher/magazine or ezine to run my story. That’s difficult, too. I may never find a home for my story except in my files. I have dozens of stories just like that. They are great stories in my way of thinking but they are just my stories. They only belong to me. And I want my stories to belong to the world.

Do you want to be a writer? Be prepared for a battle. To be an author, you have to write to win.

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