I couldn't sleep last night. I was reading Tobias Buckell's It's All Just A Draft, a how-to-write guide that he has been serializing on his website. There's only something like twenty-five or thirty pages available to read so far, so I read it all in one sitting. When I was done, it was almost 1:00 am, but I couldn't sleep. My mind was buzzing with excitement. The stuff he'd written about really resonated with me and my quest to be a writer. Let me blather on about some of the things I especially liked.
1. Buckell says that for someone to become a master of any skill, be it a doctor, lawyer, writer, racecar driver, whatever, it takes approximately 10,000 hours. He also mentions that a writer will write approximately a million words of crap before he gets good. In other words, you got to write and write a lot, to be a good writer. Something I really need to work on. I've written perhaps 100,000 words of crap in my day. So, I've got a lot to go. The thing about this, is that it made me feel a little less worried about how my stories turn out. I'm a little afraid to write my ideas, because I feel like they might just suck massively. After reading Buckell's words, however, I feel like that should be expected. There's going to be plenty of massively sucky things I write. Even ideas that I've cherished in my mind for years will probably suck. But at least they'll be somewhere other than an unused drawer in the back of my mind.
2. He talked about how he used every spare minute growing up to write. He wrote his million words while sitting through boring lectures in high school and college. It's too late for me to do that, but I sit through my share of boring events. I am now determined to use that time for good (or evil...depending on your point of view).
3. He talked about goals. Writers often make a goal to be published by a certain time, and then get really frustrated and bitter when it doesn't happen. The problem is, no matter what you do, you can't make an editor publish your story. It's just not up to you. You can do your best, but a million different things can stand in the way of that happening. So you have to make a goal that depends entirely on you. His goal was to get 100 rejection letters a year. That means submitting a lot and writing a lot. I'm going to make that my goal. I'm starting a little late in the year, but I think I can still manage.
I'll report on each rejection. You guys can watch my tally grow as the year goes on. We'll see what I can manage. I think I need to make a goal as to how many stories I will write in a year too. But I'm going to have to think on that. I'll get back to you.
I want to really encourage everyone who harbors that desire to write to go over to Tobias Buckell's site, and read that stuff. He's adding to it all the time too, so there's likely to be more fun to come, and many more inspiring insights.