So here I am, the middle post of the month, hoping for something to share with you that hasn’t already been said earlier. Maybe a profound phrase that will forever change your writing, a funny line to be quoted over and over again at writers’ groups and conferences world-wide. I’d even settle for a phrase that boomerangs around the world via blogs and emails because everyone realizes just how true it is.

And it’s not coming. Sorry.

So put away your little cut-and-pasters, close out your social networking links, and file away those index cards pulled out in hopes of getting some tidbit of information.

It’s not coming.

Editing and revisions are so easy in our computer age. We have spell-check, we have cut-and-paste, we have software programs to manage outlines, scenes, characters, plot lines, and chapters. We can switch the entire story thread by moving a scene from Chapter 6 to Chapter 2.

It’s too easy.

Just for a moment, think back to “War and Peace” by Tolstoy. He wrote his first draft in 1863 with a feather quill and inkwell. It was first published in 1865. He re-wrote the entire novel over a three-year period because he wasn’t satisfied with it. It is said his wife rewrote the entire book, by hand, 8 or 9 times, before he was satisfied with it. This book is 1,446 typewritten pages long on my computer — single spaced.

One of my favorite Charlie Brown scenes is where he has to read the book over Christmas break and he keeps falling asleep. He complains to Linus, who says, “Mrs. Tolstoy wrote this book, by hand, using candlelight, 9 times, and you can’t even stay awake long enough to read it once!”

Today anyone with a computer can sit down and write a book. Anyone who really wants to perfect their craft can go to conferences, join critique groups, buy books. We can hire an editor to do the hard work. We can get an agent to market the book to a publisher for us.

It’s too easy.

Which sometimes makes it not worth the effort. Too many people start a book, then when the going gets tough, they move on to something else.

I want to encourage you — if you’ve got a story inside you, get it out. On paper, on the computer, on a tape recorder, in a digital audio file. Just get it down.

And, if this story eats at you until you can’t ignore it, if the characters pop up in your dreams and your thoughts, if you are drawn to research the setting — get it down on paper.

Imagine if Mrs. Tolstoy had said after the first draft, “Not doing any more. One is enough.”

One is never enough. Face it. You are going to have to edit once you get it written.

But get it written first.

It’s too easy.

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