EASIER THE MORE YOU DO IT
For many people, writing is the bane of their existence. To write something other than a note to a friend, a quick instruction for someone (or yourself) to do something is almost impossible. Writing is akin to public speaking. Though there’s no abject fear of standing up in front of a group of people and talking, it’s replaced with a huge mental block in having to organize your thoughts and convey them to paper (or in this case) electrons.
THE DREADED SCHOOL ESSAY
How many of you dreaded when Teacher told the class it was time to do an essay? Didn’t you just dread it? Did you become paralyzed by the fact that you had to lay down more than a few sentences? Besides organizing your thoughts, you had to pick from a narrow line of subjects (if Teacher specify one). Then you had to do that dreaded research. What’s more, you’d have to read-read-read, take notes (which meant even more writing), then make sense of what you just wrote. From that mess, you’d have to organize it all into an intelligible essay.
When you consider all of that effort and the threat of a bad grade, is it any wonder that most kids grow up with an attitude about writing? Those rare few of us that actually love doing that may not even grow up to be writers. At first, I was not one of them. I hated writing for a long time. I dreaded it for decades.
LEARNING TO WRITE BY THE “NAZI” METHOD
Outside of my feeble attempt at a half-page Star Trek satire, typed on a manual typewriter, I never wrote more than letters home until I was forced to learn to write by the Nazi method. My Air Force boss forced the issue when I became a leader. At that time, I had to, because as a supervisor, I had to do performance reports, and they had to be well-written because what they said affected the careers of that individual, good or bad. My boss wasn’t going to let me get away with any crap, and truth be told, I wanted to do it right. Being a meticulous person, I spent quite a few nights getting home late and freaking out my wife who had no way of getting hold of me. We lived in Spain at the time and had no phone. If I didn’t get home at the regular hour, she figured we either lost a tool at work, had a base exercise, or I had a car wreck. This was the early 80’s before cell phones. My boss was going to make sure I learned some decent grammar and syntax, whether it scared the crap out of the wife, or not.
Funny thing about that forced method. I soon had to apply it to other reports, which as my responsibilities grew, became more common. Then college courses happened and if you’ve ever done any classes, you know how common essays are! Before I knew it, I was writing all the time. However, it didn’t become second nature until almost a decade later in the mid-nineties.
THE MUSE FINALLY HITS
I was getting close to my Air Force retirement when my muse finally found me. I recalled that crappy attempt at the Star Trek satire. My wife and I had made our many attempts at the music business and that didn’t work out. I needed an artistic outlet. After reading many novels, especially by Clive Cussler, Bob Mayer (as Robert Doherty at the time), Elizabeth Forrest and Carol Davis Luce, I had enough inspiration to try fiction again. Before I knew it, my first novel sat completed on my printer. The Cave is a science fiction story that will never see the light of day. However, it’s a completed novel. I went from a half page in the seventies to a completed novel in 1995 in a few months! I’m not sure if I found my muse or it found me.
My next project, a much more serious effort was The Greenhouse, my first icky bug. That novel I’m still shopping around, decades later. My chops were better and it flowed out easier. From there I shifted genres once again into action/adventure (now called adventure/thriller) with my Gold series.
In the meantime, since I found my muse, I popped out one short story after another and have amassed dozens of them. So far, my publication success is in that camp. I wish it were novels, but I am very happy to have many short stories in print.
In the meantime, as I retired and shifted jobs, I became a technical writer and trainer. I wrote 220 maintenance manuals in a rubber extrusion factory. Then I had a few years break at two different maintenance planner positions where I still had to write all the time but mostly reports and letters. Then, in 2002, I became a technical writer again and did that for nine years. I wrote professionally for almost a decade and wrote for fun as well.
PRACTICE MAKES EASY
The point is that I write a lot. I don’t dread sitting down and popping something out. In fact, this article came to my head a few minutes ago, literally. It’s that easy for me. I’ve been doing this for a while. I don’t agonize over it. It could be this way for you too if you practice. It takes a while but it’s worth it.
It gets easier the more you do it. All it takes is a nugget of an idea, then go for it. It really does work!