On What to Write

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Mark Twain

Or, like walking along the precipice, just one word away from tumbling over the brink and into oblivion.

Of course, one word won’t make or break a book. But learning to make every single word count, and be the exact right word, whose place no other word could possibly fill… Aye, there’s the rub.

So as I begin gearing up to continue writing the second book in the trilogy, it crosses my mind, what should I write?

Writers often struggle over this question, and it’s a hard one to answer. And of course, as someone who’s only written one book that hasn’t made it onto any best seller lists, take this advice with a grain of salt. I’m doing my best, but I’m not Faulkner.

"That the author shall use the right word, and not its second cousin."
“That the author shall use the right word, and not its second cousin.”

The old adage is to write what you know. But what do you know? Well, a good place to start is what you read. And you should be reading, if you want to write. Read, read, read, and read some more. Find time, make time, squeeze it in any place you can. Reading is the heartbeat of a writer, and informs your own writing, gives you tools to write better, and teaches you even when you think you’re just reading for pleasure.

So what do you know? Whatever you put into your head. So make it worthwhile. As far as inspiration to write something, that comes with practice. You can learn to be inspired, if you believe it. Establishing a routine is one of the most important parts of this. It’s like going to sleep at night, when your head hits the pillow, your body knows this is sleeping time. So it should be when you are ready to write. Whatever your rituals are—music, candles, a closed door, a bustling coffee shop, a serene beach—guard them and keep them consistent. Protect your writing routine, and don’t let anything get in the way of it. Letting yourself know it’s time to write will turn on the juices and get your brain into writing mode. It may take a while, but it will happen, I promise.

Write what you’re passionate about—the things you love doing, your hobbies, or the things you read about. Write about the places in your mind you’d love to visit. Share those visions with the world, whatever they are. I guarantee you have an audience who wants to hear about it. If you need some help getting started, I found this great little tool to offer a little inspiration called “Storyometer”. Try it out if you’re feeling stuck, it can help give you ideas, details to fill the story out, and suggestions on building suspense.

The most important part of the writing though, is simply doing it. Just sitting down and doing it. It won’t be easy—writers are people for whom writing is more difficult than others. But the reward in sharing the stories makes it all worthwhile.

Now, back to my second draft.

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