Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Year in Review

So, we’ve all been at this for... what, a couple months now? Well over a year since I made that very first post, by my count. Of course, I took some time off so I can hardly point the finger if you did, too.

Anyway, let’s not nitpick. There’s not much time before the New Year and we’ve got important stuff to discuss.

What have you written so far?

I don’t want you to talk about what you’ve planned. Not interested in any great ideas you’ve had. Don’t care who you had lunch with, what clever software you bought, or what fascinating research you’ve done.

The question is, what have you written?

Easy question, right? How many words have you set down on paper? How many new Word documents or Final Draft files have been created on your computer since you first looked at this half-witted, rambling set of rants I call a blog?

At the end of the day, this is the first marker you have to pass if you want to be a writer. You have to write.

If you’re still getting around to it, playing with a few things, or trying to find the right time when you’re in the right mood—you’re not a writer. You’re one of those folks in the coffee shop who wears a beret, puts on a fake accent, and loves to tell anyone who’ll listen about how everything put out by Hollywood and the big publishers is complete crap and, oh, the fantastic work you would share with the world except there’s no one else as brilliant you to understand it.

Okay, you’re probably not that bad...

Stop and ask yourself, though. If you keep looking here and you haven’t written anything... why not? What’s been holding you back? What are you waiting for? Because believe me, it never gets any easier. If you can’t find the resolve to even get started, do you really think you’re going to be able to keep at it long enough to finish a novel? Or a screenplay? Heck, even just a short story?

Again, what it all comes down to is the writing. If you want to call yourself a writer, you have to write. That’s it. Not just talk about it. Not buy books or software to help you do it. It doesn't even count if you read ranty blogs about writing.

The joy of this little failing, though, is it’s easy to fix. Just go sit down at your desk and write. That’s all it takes.

In the past year or so since I started taking this collection of rants somewhat seriously, I’ve paid the rent by writing a few dozen articles for Creative Screenwriting (including one about comic book movies I was pretty happy with). I got to interview a bunch of heavyweight filmmakers like David Goyer, Kevin Smith, and Zack Snyder. I also did a bunch of film and DVD reviews (and let me save you the trouble—Scorpion King 2 is just not worth it. Don’t sink to that level. You deserve better, seriously).

I’ve also written four short stories, two of which are being published next year in two separate anthologies. At the moment I’m working on two more which are both past the halfway mark.

I placed in three different screenwriting contests with my script Reality Check. It’s sort of a sci-fi, metafiction, comedy film. With giant monsters and spaceships. And enough genre references to make a geek’s head explode.

And there was the novel, Ex-Heroes, which was written in its entirety this year. It started out as a mild rant to a friend and then mixed with a few superheroes I’d made up back in high school. I got the contract from the publisher today, and if all goes well it’ll be on book shelves, Amazon, and Oprah’s reading list sometime next year.

Oh. And I managed to post here two or three times a month pretty faithfully. Well, until the eggnog showed up and productivity dropped to a crawl.

Now, granted, I’m in that lucky small percentage of folks who does this full time, but really there’s no real excuse for not writing. Stephen King wrote Carrie while he was teaching high school. David Goyer wrote his first screenplay while he was fetching coffee and making copies as an office PA. Clive Cussler started his long-running Dirk Pitt series (Raise the Titanic ring a bell?) while he was doing ad copy.

We must write.

Make that your New Year’s resolution. A page a day. Just one page. A mere two hundred and fifty words if you double-space. If you can write one page a day, you’ll have a short story by the end of January, a screenplay by the time May rolls around, or a solid novel this time next year. All that, out of just one measly page a day.

Happy New Year to all nine of you reading this.

Now go write that page.

6 comments:

Ara 13 said...

Judging from the books you are interested in, I wouldn't mind a critique. If you would be like, I can send you an ARC of Drawers & Booths, by Ara 13. It won an IPPY as an "Outstanding Book of the Year." You can research me at Ara13.com and on Amazon. I can be reached at ara13c@yahoo.com Thanks. Ara

Anonymous said...

Great post!!! I can't wait to read the novel! When can I get it and where???

el Juano said...

Excellent rant - I feel ready to tackle that comic script I've had in the back of my head for years now. I wonder if I can find some software to help...;)

Patrick Rutigliano said...

Some excellent points made here. While I do actually believe that inspiration does have to factor into when you write creatively (otherwise one tends to end up with drivel, if anything at all), you definitely do have to sit your rear down and at least TRY to work on it at some point if you want to call yourself a writer. I've attempted the whole page/day thing on more than one occasion and it never worked for me; I tend to make up for it by getting that whole short story done in about 2-3long writing sessions/month. S'funny to note that the group of fiction writers I know are almost split down the middle as to whether to do it the one way or the other.

Rakie said...

if it gives a nice little ego-boo to you, one of my friends cornered me the other day and demanded to know where the new draft of my stupid screenplay was. Thanks to your help i was able to fend them off with assurances that the next draft is not only on its way, but will be considerably better than the last. :)

too late on the Scorpion King 2 thing tho... :(

nathaneharvey.com said...

Ex-Heroes is how I found this blog! I'm working from the beginning, and really enjoy soaking up knowledge from an established writer! Keep it coming!