Today we warmly welcome author Jeff Joseph again to Marcia’s Book Talk. Jeff, author of THE TRIALS OF VIRTUE, the Novel series of books A NOVEL OBSESSION and PURSUED, and his newest work LOST HEART, discusses writing from his personal experience, and how in the great number of instances the only person preventing us from pursuing our passion for writing can be ourselves. Very truthful, and uplifting advice for writers to act upon. We will now allow Jeff to show us how to awaken the writer within ourselves…
AWAKEN THE WRITER WITHIN by Jeff Joseph
When I’m with family, friends, or acquaintances, I never bring up the subject of my writing. I’m more than happy to talk about it but don’t feel comfortable with what may appear to be self-promotion. Should someone else broach the subject though, I’m off and running because it’s such a fun topic to talk about…not me…writing.
Once on a roll, I always wind up talking the most about how I find writing to be a powerful and gratifying way to release stress. There are few things in life that get me in a better mood more quickly than completing the chapter of a book, an important passage, or even a meaningful sentence. And dialogue? I simply get lost in writing dialogue as if I was actually living the scene. Talk about escape! It’s like watching a great movie except that you have complete control over what takes place. You can write whatever ending you like. Sometimes I’ll sit down intending to write for a half hour and get up from my computer six hours later feeling giddy and energized. Yes…after six hours!
The beautiful thing about the exhilaration that comes from writing is that you can experience it whenever you can find the time to sit down and create. You don’t have to wait for the next great movie to come out, or until your favorite team wins a big game. And as I mentioned, it can come in any increment of time. Want to feel great? Got ten minutes? Go for it!
Finally, as is the case now, I always conclude my thoughts on writing by doing a small amount of soft and well-intended lecturing.
Many, many people conceive of the idea of writing…something. The desire ranges from a passing, casual thought, to a fervent, lifelong ambition. The sad truth is that nearly all of those fancies are never realized. Why? Because people make up their mind they can’t do it before they ever give it a chance.
I was one of those people until about twenty years ago when I finally made up my mind to try to write a novel. I did it for the sole purpose of seeing if I could complete one. I never dared dream about having it published. I had no time-table. I was busy with my job and family, but it’s amazing how much time you can find once you get started. I would write during my lunch hour instead of scouring the sports page. I would write while waiting for my car to be repaired rather than mindlessly watching daytime TV or reading year old magazines. I even wrote once while stuck in a traffic jam that didn’t move an inch for forty-five minutes. I put my car in park, pulled out my binder, and wrote away. Once traffic started moving again I was completely relaxed and felt great. Every other driver was ready to pop a vein.
I finished that book…it took ten years. Crazy right? No, not at all. I can’t even begin to express the self-satisfaction it brought me, more than any other accomplishment in my life to that point. Along the journey writing became a treasured hobby, the only hobby I’ve ever stuck with consistently. The book was short and not very good, but it didn’t matter. I completed it!
Since that time, and several books later, writing has become a more serious pursuit. My work has gotten much better as I’ve navigated the enjoyable learning process, and it’s more of a full-time job now. Do I love it less because of that? No…far more. What a wonderful, gratifying way to spend time.
The salient point of my lecture is this. If you have ever thought about writing, the only thing preventing you from doing it…is you.
Don’t worry about whether or not you’re creative (I am the least creative person I know). Most stop before starting for that reason. Don’t worry about whether or not you have the talent to sell your writing. If you write to please yourself, you may wind up selling your work, but if not will still be pleased with yourself! Either way you win.
Is writing hard? No. Do you need to take classes or read books on the subject before you can consider it? No. Have you ever read a book before? If so then you already know a lot about it. If you continue to read while you write, you will learn more that you can imagine. For now though, just think of something to write about. Relax, clear your mind of other things that are troubling you, and start typing. You can write a novel, or a non-fiction book on a subject you have a passion for, or a short story, or an article, or a diary. It doesn’t matter. Will it be good? Probably better than you think, but that doesn’t matter either. Will it get better the more you write? Definitely! Will you enjoy yourself? You know you will. You wouldn’t have read this to the end if you didn’t think that.
Get started. Write anything. Do it today. Enjoy it for the rest of your life.
This is a great essay, filled with many thought-provoking and helpful points for writers, and thank you to Jeff for contributing his essay to the blog. If you would like to find out more about Jeff, check out his interview on Marcia’s Book Talk here which has contact information, and more details about where to find Jeff’s books.