I've been studying the craft of writing for ten years now. That's a long time to be taking classes on plot and character development, saving up the money to go to various writing conferences and subscribing to 'Writer's Digest.' I think it's safe to say that I've bought enough writing books to start a library--I know my movers LOVED it when they got a look at my bookshelves.
But in all that time, I have very little to show for it. Granted, life has been very full for our family over the last few years and I had to put my writing dreams on a shelf. That said, I learned a valuable lesson at the 2008 ACFW conference that I want to share because in all honesty, I don't remember one person sharing this secret with me in the nine years leading up to that conference. If you did, I sincerely apologize--and the next time you have such an informative nugget, knock me in the head!
So what's the big secret to learning how to write? What did those writers at the 2008 conference tell me that changed my writing life?
Put your butt in a chair and write! Set a doable word count and do it! At that conference, everyone from John Olsen to Nancy Moser shared that they had a word count for the day. It wasn't an outrageous amount--most had counts in the 1-2K range per day. And every time I heard one of these great writers share their word count, all I could think was 'I can do that!'
Since September, 2008, I have tried to set a daily count of at least 1500 words. I haven't always made it--we did have three surgeries, two graduations and a cross country move in the last 13 months. But this week, I hit a milestone--when I won the Genesis with this manuscript last year, I had exactly 25 pages. This week, 270 pages later, I'm working on the last scene. The book is finished. And it's because of that wonderful nugget of advice I got at last year's conference--write, write, write!