Most Wannabe Writers Lack the Muscle to Reach Page Two

Rebecca West

“Journalism: an ability to meet the challenge of filling the space.” – Rebecca West, Born Dec. 21, 1892.

The hardest part about writing is the writing. Having ideas is easy. Everyone has ideas. But not everyone writes.

I mean, most people CAN “write” – in the sense that they are literate. But most people can't WRITE. And write. And write.

It's work. It's a grind. Scribbling or typing or dictating – for hours and hours while your brain runs hot, creating the next sentence just ahead of the cursor.

Once, Harlan Ellison famously set up shop with his typewriter in a bookstore display window, and wrote for eight hours straight, in view of passersby. The idea being, he wanted to demonstrate that writing was WORK.

So here is some practical advice, if you think you would like to write professionally, even on the side.

Build up your chops.

Take a Saturday, or spend a late evening. Just write. Continuously. For hours. About whatever. It doesn't matter. Make it up as you go. Don't do anything else. Have a beverage close by. Don't take breaks. Don't stop to think for more than a few seconds.

Write and write and write. One word after another. One sentence after the next. Paragraph after paragraph.

It might be trash, content wise. That's not the point of the exercise. The point is to get good at the WORK part.

So that when you get those good ideas like everyone does, you have the physical capability of tippity tapping that idea into reality with your writing.

The more you do it, the better you get. Faster. Easier. You'll be in “writing shape” and even random musings will be a cut above what a non-writer could come up with.

But most importantly, where non-writers would be finger-cramped and brain-fried, you are a well oiled machine, humming along as the pages practically fill themselves.

And being able to “fill the page” is an incredibly valuable skill to have when the cards are down and deadlines are looming and you have to crank out a miracle.

5 thoughts on “Most Wannabe Writers Lack the Muscle to Reach Page Two”

  1. Man, I'm glad you mentioned HE. Yeah, he was of an era when artists had to produce a lot of good, quality writing. My favorite YouTube video is "Pay the Writer". If you haven't seen it you are really missing a great rant. Thanks for another great post.

    1. Met him in person once at DragonCon where he was a guest but I bumped into him on the comic book show floor and he was shopping. So I just thanked him kindly for the entertainment, shook his hand and walked away. Right after me, someone else grabs him and does the Wayne’s World “NOT WORTHY” bow thing and tries to get him to sign something or other. And I got to witness a classic Harlan rant in person. “DO YOU SEE A PEN IN MY HAND? AM I AT A LITTLE TABLE WITH MY NAME ON A CARD? NO, BECAUSE THAT WAS AN HOUR AGO! THERE WAS A LINE, AND BROTHER, IT WAS LONG! NOW FUGGOFF, I’M TRYING TO BUY GREEN LANTERN COMICS!”

  2. When I first saw this subject line, I wondered if this post (email, in my case) was a challenge: would I be able to read to the second page.

    Little did I know that the "challenge," so to speak, would be to write…and write and write.

    Anyway, I have to get back to work, which involves writing (or rather, re-writing).

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