Actually Writing Your Book

It’s 11:39 PM when I’m starting to write. It’s Wednesday, “Hump Day”. I’ve decided to write in a public forum in the hopes that doing so will make me shape up enough to write in complete sentences. Basically, to not be so lazy. Alright, that wasn’t a complete sentence.

Whatever. That wasn’t either.

What matters is that I write everyday. There’s no other way to become a good writer. I’ve heard a lot of writers talk about writing. And one thing they all seem to agree on — and they don’t agree on much — is that in order to become a writer, you need to write. That seems obvious, and it is. “Seeming obvious” is dangerous, though, when I realized how much time a day I was THINKING about writing, and how little time I was actually writing.

So here goes. I’ve lived long enough to know that mistakes are inevitable. I know for sure that I’ll make mistakes that would make Strunk and White cringe. But I’ll do my best not to be sloppy. I’ll do my best to capitalize the beginnings of sentences. I’ll do my best to use the apostrophe when it’s right to use it, and leave the apostrophe out when it’s not its time.

I know that writing is much more than grammar. Writing is about conveying ideas, however that works. Grammar helps. But, writing is also about being an active member of society. Writing is about learning civility. Writing is about distilling vitriol and serving it hot and bubbling. Writing is about learning new words. Writing is about words people understand. Writing is about comforting. Writing is about stirring up a slack, boggy pond. Writing is about that boulder perched on the side of a mountain. Writing is about putting a little rock next to the boulder and prying the boulder loose of the mountainside with the simple machine strength of your prose. Writing is about tying supports to that boulder so it doesn’t smash into the house at the bottom. Writing is about realizing that the house at the bottom will actually be crushed by the falling boulder and that you can take with you only what you can pack on your horse — your bowl, your notebook, your kids, your partner — and move a few yards to the side as the boulder rolls into what you thought your home was. Writing is acknowledgment of those tricky subjects: sex, humor, taxes, cancer, jealousy, death, wonderment, water, fire, our piddling place in the universe, God in the movements of the dancer you saw last month even though you’re not sure if you believe in God, trees, birds, the ocean, rice, beans, and caviar.

Maybe you like to write. Maybe you hate it. Maybe you love it. Maybe you’ve never really tried. If you’ve never really tried, but would like to, here is a way to start.

It’s called Nanowrimo.

Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s the best kick in the ass that I know of to get started writing. Nanowrimo started out with a person who recognized the power of guilt monkeys and plot bunnies and running backwards speaking inspiring words into a camera. Wearing, of course, a Viking helmet. You too can be a Nanowrimo champion. Who knows where it, or you, will go next. Take the plunge: