if you love writing, do it

“If you love writing, do it, no matter what anyone says. There are people who have told me that The Rival is boring, stupid, pointless, and a waste of time. (And they are entitled to their opinion. It’s a free country.) But I love The Rival, and my sister Rebecca loves it, and you enjoyed it, too. That’s what’s important. If you write, someday someone will say your writing is bad. Don’t let their opinion – which they are entitled to! – come between you and the writing you love.

Next most important to writing a good book is to have a good story. A good story has at least the following three things:

  1. Something important to the main character must be at risk. For example, in The Rival, Bex’s big sister Beatrix has been kidnapped. Imagine if the story was just about Bex and Beatrix going to get ice cream on a sunny day, and the worst thing that happened was Bex dropped her cone on the ground. That would not be too interesting. A good story has risk and danger to something extremely important to the main character.
  2. The main character must have an important decision to make. In The Rival, Bex must decide whether to risk her life and career – and those of her close friends – to save her sister. And, once Beatrix is saved, she must decide whether to try to find a way to stop Dr. Andronicus. Imagine if the biggest decision Bex had to make was whether to have chocolate or vanilla ice cream. That is not too important and therefore not too exciting. A good story contains decisions that are hard to make and have big consequences.
  3. The main character must be changed in a meaningful way by the end. In The Rival, Bex starts out as a student, her biggest concern planning how to win the next Apian Dance competition. But by the end, Bex is the commander of the very small army that stands between the good people of the world and the evil schemes of Dr. Andronicus. She has to learn how to lead and be brave. Imagine if in The Rival, the biggest change that happened to Bex was that she decided she likes chocolate ice cream best. That’s not very meaningful. A good story shows how something important happened inside the heart of the main character.

Best of luck with your writing, and keep up the good work.”

I like this letter I wrote to a fan. So I shared it.

The chicken says “if you love writing, do it”.

Chicken by Lily, from Utah.

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4 thoughts on “if you love writing, do it

  1. I don’t remember where I heard this, but that doesn’t matter because the metaphor still holds. At a quantum level, “The cat sat on the mat” is not a story. “The cat sat on the other cat’s mat,” while not terrific, is at least the beginning of a story because you have conflict.

  2. I remembered another thing and I didn’t want to nest it in the other comment. If you want to do something (say in my case, create a game, start a podcast, write a book), don’t worry about the end product. Just start. That’s what the creative process is for. Don’t worry about whether you’re going to be any good at it. That’s why you practice. Maybe your first podcast episode will sound stilted and scripted and too low for humans to hear (as mine was). Your first draft will likely need a bunch of editing, but that’s OK, you know that’s coming. Or maybe you’ll just be rad at it because you’re completely gifted at the creating process. You won’t know until you plant your rear, get to creating, and do.

    • It’s so true – you don’t know until you try. And if your first attempt isn’t too hot, but you love it, keep going. Persistence pays off. Many of my heroes, from Madeleine L’Engle to Louis C.K., toiled for decades with no recognition of their work, but they kept going anyway.

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