Just Write: The First Step


I’ve read it a million times from every author/hobby writer who’s ever used the internet:

“The biggest part of writing is just that… writing.”

How can anyone expect to get their writing noticed if they don’t ever write? I suppose that I could explain the thought process. See, I’m one of those “writers” who just sits around waiting for the muse to strike and tell me exactly what to write. I remember when I used to write on-demand: I’d always have a notebook with me, and any spare moment would be spent adding to whatever story I happened to be working on at the time. Those days are long gone even though I have more time I could dedicate to writing than I used to.


The difference is distraction. There are so many other things to do. Get on Facebook, watch TV, check out the entire internet a few times, get sucked into the Youtube cycle of suggested videos… I could name a hundred more distractions, but I think that list gets the point across.

The question becomes this: How do you overcome the distractions?

The simple answer for me is to grab a notebook instead of my laptop. That way, when I get stuck, I don’t have that little button to get on the internet and completely forget about my writing. Then there’s making time to write– determining a specified amount of time each day to spend with just my notebook and a pen.

I think the best solution would be to find a cave or a log cabin (think: Secret Window) to go hide out in. No internet access, a phone only for emergencies, and a beautiful setting to draw inspiration from. Unfortunately, hiding out for as long as it takes to finish a book isn’t exactly feasible for most people. Then there’s that whole developing homicidal multiple personality disorder thing that makes me a little weary…

So how do you eliminate the distractions from every day life? How do you put aside time to write, and not let your writing be affected by life?

1. Write whatever is in your head. Don’t worry if it’s not the next great American novel. Just write through the crap, and eventually you’ll find the good stuff.

2. Find a little bit of time each day to write. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, take that time to write something. A blog, a letter, a page on your story, a poem– whatever. Just write.

3. Limit your internet usage. Figure out what is important when you get online, and do it quickly. There are programs available to lock your internet access– if you need to, invest in one of those and set it up to only allow you online for 30 minutes or so a day. Or, set it to block access for the time frame you’ve determined you’ll use to write each day.


That’s the bottom line. If you want to be a writer, all you have to do is write. If you truly love writing, it won’t feel like work. Just let the words flow, and don’t worry if it’s not your best work. You can always edit later, and not everything you write has to be seen by the world. Eliminate whatever distractions you can for as long as you can, and listen to your characters as they tell you their story.

And start looking for abandoned caves you could hole yourself up in for a few weeks…


What do you do to overcome distractions when you want to write?


It wasn’t failure. It was just a success that didn’t come to fruition.

I’ve been awake since 5:00 am. I know, that’s normal for a lot of people. For me, being awake that early usually means I haven’t gone to bed yet.

I decided before I rolled out from under the covers that I was going to be productive today. Three hours, a shower, and a big cup of coffee later, I’ve accomplished… absolutely nothing.


I want to be writing right now. “But you are writing!” you argue. Sure, it looks like I’m writing. What I’m actually doing is thinking while my fingers are on the keyboard– that doesn’t count as writing. Writing is what I do when I have a notebook and a pen and a story idea that my hand can barely keep up with.

I started this story a few months ago. It’s called Finitely Endless (mostly because I love the opposition of that title), and I think it has potential. I’d tell you about it, but chances are someone here will read all the details and make it into a complete, marketable novel before I do. Maybe I should just hire a ghostwriter– I supply the idea, they supply the filler needed to create 300+ pages of literary gold.

I got a page and a half in before I started to doubt myself. I went back to read what I had written before, and I don’t like it.

I really need to find a more forgiving critic to look over my work. Unfortunately, my only choice is my husband, and he’s a little biased.

So now what? I’ve read the few blogs that have already been posted today, and I’m feeling ready to lay down and go back to sleep for a few more hours. I could play some Super Mario Brothers, but I’m guessing my lack-of-sleep attention span will make my game a disaster. It’s a perfect day to go garage saling, my favorite spring activity EVER, but I’m broke. Sigh.

And also? My office smells like a litter box. I’m not sure exactly what my cats have marked– whatever it is, I need to find it and get it the hell out of here. Quickly. I swear, I have the five most possessive cats who ever lived. I’m surprised they don’t pee on me in my sleep to remind each other who I belong to.

Sigh, again.

I should probably work on a more detailed outline for this story. I’ve already decided what I want to accomplish in the first few chapters, but I don’t have a detailed structure to work with. Seems like as good a place to start as any, I suppose.

I’ve decided to start treating writing like a real job– granted, I’m not sure this commitment will last more than a day or two. I want to be at my desk by a specified time every day, and write for at least a few hours. I figure since I’m unemployed, I can at least pretend like I have a real job.

This was a lot more fun when I was little and the careers required less work… just saying.

If I were my boss, I’d tell me not to come back tomorrow.

But beginnings are hard! And so are middles! Endings, on the other hand– I can handle those. I can make endings my bitch.

At least I’ve got a good title…

To my fellow writers– got any tips to help me get started? Any words of encouragement? Is it possible to make my story write itself?

I needed a distraction from packing…

Mark sat on the floor next to the bed in his black tuxedo, covering his face with his hands. Carly didn’t say anything as she watched him, her heart breaking with his. She leaned over the side of the bed and put her arms around him, and he rested his head against her. She held him tight as her tears began to fall. She couldn’t make him stop hurting, no matter how hard she tried. She could only be there for him, and keep her arms around him as long as he’d let her.

He had been shunned again by his family, his friends. They smelled alcohol on his breath and they turned him away from his brother’s wedding, as she knew they would. He wanted to make amends to them. He wanted to tell them how sorry he was, that he’d never hurt them again. But they hadn’t forgotten that night so long ago, the night he lost control. It was the night they lost their little girl, and he was to blame.

Sometimes, he wished he had been prosecuted for his crime. After all, he had been driving that night. He had had a few shots before Sadie called and begged him to pick her up from her boyfriend’s house. He heard the desperation in her voice as she told him what was happening and begged him not to call their mom and dad. So he went to her, and he found her shivering on the corner a few blocks away from Nathan’s house in a short red dress and silver high heels. He turned the heat up all the way when she got into the car.

She was crying as she told him what had happened. He held her hand, as he had done so many times over the years. He got angry as she spoke, and he thought about going back to Nathan’s house after he took Sadie home. He would beat the little fucker into submission for hurting his baby sister.

He heard Sadie scream, and he was snapped out of his thoughts. The car was already in the middle of the intersection when he finally noticed that the light was red, and a horn blared beside them. Glass shattered all around Sadie, and he saw her body twist and jolt as the metal around her gave in to the pickup truck. His head bounced off the steering wheel, and blackness followed the blinding pain.

When he awoke again, he was still inside the car. Sadie was next to him, and her face was covered in blood. He reached for her, whispered her name. She didn’t move. He yelled for help. Soon he heard the wail of sirens, and he pleaded with his baby sister to hold on until someone came to help.

They pulled him out of the car first. He told them over and over again that he was fine, that Sadie was the one who needed help. He heard a paramedic say that they were too late, that she had died on impact. Mark tried to get up from the stretcher, but they held him down. They inserted a thin needle into his arm as they loaded him into the ambulance, and everything went black again.

It had been 8 years since that night, and it still haunted him each and every day. He turned to liquor to kill the memories, but each drink only reminded him that he was responsible for his sister’s death. She would be 24 now, and she would have been a bridesmaid in Tyler’s wedding. Things should have turned out so differently.

Now, Mark had no family. His parents didn’t press charges against him– sometimes, he wished they had. If he had gone to jail for manslaughter, at least they could have gotten the retribution they deserved for losing their little girl. He wished that he had died instead. Sadie would have done so much more with her life. He couldn’t even hold a job, and he spent most of his waking hours in a drunken haze.

Carly loved him, though. She had loved him before that awful night, and she would spend the rest of her life loving him. She tried so hard to convince him to stop drinking, but reality was just too much for him to handle. Guilt weighed heavily upon him. He missed Sadie so much, and his family’s scorn, however deserved it might be, only added to his burden. They had made it clear that they would never be able to forgive him as long as he was still drinking. Each time he emptied a bottle, he promised it would be his last one. For them. For himself. For the woman who, despite how much he told her to leave him, wouldn’t let him be alone.

But tonight, he would sober up. Tonight, he would face his demons. He would remember that night again in his dreams, and he would hear Sadie’s last scream. He would never forgive himself for what he had done, but he could atone for it. He could stop drinking now and live the life he stole from Sadie. He held Carly tight and whispered to her:

“I’m sorry.”

Tears rolled down her cheeks and landed on his jacket. She had waited so long to hear those words, and for the changes that would inevitably follow. This was the man she had fallen in love with, not the drunk she had been taking care of for the last 8 years. She held him tighter, and he took her hands in his.

“I love you. And I forgive you,” she said.

A long road lay ahead of them both. There would be sleepless nights, bottomless depression, and ghosts of the past to draw him back towards the bottle. But for now, they had this moment. They had the promise that somehow, the future would be brighter.