It starts with a page. Just one, simple, plain white blank page. The sight of that page can send writers into screaming fits of terror, complete with hair-tearing and face-scratching. But sooner or later, we all have to calm down and face the page, because that's where every single one of our stories start.
A lot of people ask me, "How do you write a book?" I'm never quite sure how to answer that question. I just...write. I know that probably sounds inane and somewhat pretentious, but the truth is that you can talk about writing until you're blue in the face, you can take writing classes until the cows come home, and you can read every single book ever written on "how to write," and yet you still have to sit your butt in the chair, every day, and WRITE.
Slow and steady wins the race just as well as fast and furious. One page a day will produce a 365-page novel by the end of the year. That's quite a respectable length. Even if it's crap - and trust me, even the best writer on the planet produces crap in a first draft - you've still written it. You've written a novel. One page at a time.
I've been reminding myself of this a lot lately because I just started a new novel. I'm not quite sure where it's all going or who all the characters are, and I haven't fallen in love with it yet. But I know that as long as I keep showing up to that blank page, every day, and writing just a little bit (even 300 words counts) that after a while, I'll have a book. And that's a huge victory.
Nora Roberts said, "You can edit anything but a blank page." I love that quote. It's so true. No matter how bad that page is, no matter if there are split infinitives and passive voice and telling instead of showing all over it, you can fix it. But you can't fix it unless you write it in the first place. And who knows - maybe you're the lucky author-in-a-million whose first draft stuff comes out like Shakespeare! You never know unless you sit down, and write.
So here's to the small victories - the 300 words that felt like pulling teeth, the five pages that flew out in under an hour, and the pages that have black type and red ink all over them. Celebrate that! And if you're still pulling your hair out and scratching your face, take a deep breath, put your hands on the keyboard, and start writing.
Nicole Maggi is thrilled to join the voices at Downtown YA! She writes YA - paranormal, historical, and beyond - and strives to have something available in bookstores soon. She's represented by the fabulous Irene Goodman of The Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, their daughter Emilia (after the Shakespeare character), and two cats Sawyer & Hurley (after the LOST characters). Yeah, she's a geek. Check out her website & follow her on Twitter!