This quote from Nora Ephron is one of my favourites because it’s so painfully true. At one level, yes, writing is as simple as putting one word in front of another (thank you for that one, Neil Gaiman). On another level, writing is tricky juggling act between the urge to create, nagging self-doubt, and the stubborn belief that if they can do it, so can I.
And while I would love to perpetuate the myth that writing is about eating gold bullion for breakfast and sailing to the local hipster coffee shop on a diamond-encrusted yacht after writing ten words, I can’t. Writing is about discipline and routine. It’s about setting realistic goals and having the tenacity to sit down, day after day, and stare down the blank page/screen while you try to conjure words from thin air. And not just any old words. Sausages. Lip balm. Fudge. Highlighter pen doesn’t really cut it (and I’m now a little confused as to why I have those specific things on my desk as I write this).
The words have to make sense. They have to convey your story with emotion and clarity, meaning and impact. Your words have to connect a total stranger to your fictional world, and they have to do it quickly to engage the reader in the opening chapters, and consistently, to keep them turning the page. We all have ideas, but where so many writers come unstuck is in the seemingly simple task of transferring that genius idea from brain to page. It’s easy to get lost and confused, to lose faith in your idea or abilities. Why? Because writing is hard! Having written six novels (and currently writing my seventh and eighth – don’t ask), I’m still learning how to do it better, and more efficiently, and with less actual swearing out loud.
But here’s the good news!!! As with anything we do again and again, we would expect to improve, and so it is with writing. In 2017, Carmel Harrington, Catherine Ryan Howard and I established The Inspiration Project in order to share our advice and experience and help new writers venture into their first drafts fully prepared, aware of the pitfalls that trip up so many and to ultimately FINISH THE BOOK. Catherine, Carmel and I can talk about the realities of writing, the ups and downs, the imposter syndrome and the shitty first drafts because we live and breathe it every single day. And since we didn’t have a jump start or any helpful connections in the publishing industry when we started out (aka: hadn’t a clue what we were doing) we can absolutely relate to any writer who comes to our events. We also started out by attending workshops and events with half an idea and a new notebook. We had to find the courage to walk into a room full of strangers and say, “I want to be a writer. Can you help me?” And we are SO glad we did.
Our new one-day writing event in Dublin city centre this September has been designed to work for writers who want to further their understanding of the nitty gritty involved in writing a book, and build a greater awareness of the tips and techniques that can make an enormous difference. We’ve worked hard to create very practical modules on plotting, characterisation and editing which share our collective lessons on best practice (we’ve written and published 16 novels between us so we hope to have learned something along the way!)
Over half the tickets have already sold, so it you think this could be the writing kick-start, boost or refresher you need to get your writing back on track this autumn, what are you waiting for?
Full details of the one-day event in Dublin are at https://theinspirationproject.ie We hope to see you there!