I always wanted to write a novel. There were several ideas roughly formed in my head that I kept in a journal on my nightstand. Although I had amassed several concepts, I didn’t get very far. The problem was that I was thinking about writing and not actually doing it.
As I explained in my “About Me” page, I found Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” and realized that there are other ways to tackle the art of writing a novel. If I dwelt on the fact that it would be a lot of work — nothing would get done. If I let myself be paralyzed with fear over grammatical things I’ve yet to learn — I won’t write anything. If I spent all my time thinking about it — my novel would be stillborn.
The realization hit me that no matter how good or bad my writing was going to be, I couldn’t improve it if I had nothing written down. Nobody can fix a blank sheet of paper. There would be nothing to give others to critique and help me see the error of my literary ways or receive the encouragement needed to get over that creeping thought that plagues all first time writers: “I don’t know what I’m doing, and my writing sucks.”
I decided to just write and force myself to get the story out of my head and into a document. I had the concept for a homeless man that acquires the gift of healing. Nothing more than just some ideas on how the story might go. I wrote the first chapter like a short story, introducing the four main characters that would drive the novel. It was strange how these same characters came alive only when I wrote.
I kept my writing secret from everyone in my family until I had several chapters done. I didn’t want to proclaim, “I’m writing a novel” and put that kind of pressure on myself. Soldiering away on it for almost a year, I got sidetracked several times. When I didn’t know where the story was going next, I skipped ahead to a scene I could visualize. It helped me fill in the blanks and get moving again. Before I knew it, my first draft of “Saint Jim” was done. It was one of the more difficult things I have ever done, but definitely satisfying.
There is a magic that is truly wonderful when you start writing. Ideas and situations come from nothingness. I had read about this magic, but to experience it first hand was surreal. There is a muse that comes. At times it may be silent, and one has to push through those moments where it seems the work has no soul to get to the moments that feel as if they were divinely inspired.
In the immortal words of Nike Marketing: Just Do It!