Nothing gets written without actually writing

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got an idea for a story, maybe even a book-length story. It wasn’t going anywhere, so I checked out a bunch of how-to-write books out of the library. Bird by Bird is one of the original.

I didn’t learn specific methods, not really. A couple of good tips, like start somewhere, take it step by step (the origin of the bird by bird title), and the shitty first draft, sure. But my main takeaways from Bird by Bird were: nothing gets written without actually sitting down and writing, and, a writer needs to get out in the world.

Sitting down and writing means prioritizing writing, which is something I’m not necessarily good at. I’m a working mom, so there’s always something else that needs doing. (The current state of my desk is not pretty.) I have tried writing on my phone, using the cloud to store the document, a thing I know works for some people. It’s not for me. To get this story written, I’m going to need to spend more time with my butt in my chair, typing away.

The opposite, though, is also true. Writing is lonely, just you at your computer. And you need to know things for your books, specific details like what’s the name of that street, what did it feel like when you and your first significant other broke up, what the wire thing on the top of the champagne bottle is called. So when the loneliness gets to be too much, make a phone call. Have coffee with a friend. Do some research. You, as a writer, also need to get out in the world. Go into the world.

Bird by Bird didn’t necessarily give me a new way to tackle my story, not in the same way that Story Genius did. But it did remind me that writing doesn’t magically happen, and in the writing, don’t forget to live.