Fiction does not spring into the world fully grown, like Athena. It is the process of writing and rewriting that makes a fiction original, if not profound.
~ John Gardner
How I Write
I write two pages a day. Really. I get tired if I write any more than that. But funny thing is, when you only write two pages a day, you think about the story for the rest of the day.
Then, when the next days comes around, I already know what I want to write about. You could say that I “write” all day, then, when the morning comes, I share on paper a little of my thinking.
Put another way, my writings are the documenting of my musings.
Why Two Pages a Day
I wish I thought of this on my own. I write two pages a day because storytellers Katherine Patterson, Gary Schmidt, and Kate DiCamillo write two pages a day. I believe it’s said, one should try to stand on the shoulders of giants. And I think, that when you write, you really need to have a few writing giants. These are a few of mine.
When Do I Write
Every morning I get up before the sun does. That’s about four o’clock in the morning. Many days I don’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes I tell myself that I should stop writing because I’m not any good. Still, I get up, turn on my little desk lamp, and write two pages. When I’m done, I write in my journal for a little while, then read my Bible, and get ready for the rest of my day.
What Is Writing
When I was younger, I always wanted to tell stories. Problem was, I couldn’t spell and didn’t know a lick of grammar. Even today I’m not a good speller. My grammar and spelling are very bad and I sometimes make funny writing mistakes. I once thought that I couldn’t be a writer because I had poor English skills. I suppose, I’m not a writer. That’s why I call myself a storyteller. You see storytellers tell stories with their heart. Storytellers aren’t perfect, but they can spin a good yarn. They can make you laugh and cry and get angry all at the same time. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are very important. Some people are good at that. I’m not. But for me, writing is storytelling. And when we tell stories I think that we must tell real stories. Stories that come from the deepest place inside of us. I cry sometimes when I write my stories. I think its good to cry every once and a while. Stories need to matter. And if a story fails to reach the storyteller, then why tell the story at all?
I hope that all storytellers begin stories inside their heart. One of my writing teachers, Phyllis Root, once told me that when I write a story, it must be from my heart to the heart of the child. “Heart to heart,” that’s what she said. And I couldn’t agree more.
I learned writing discipline the hard way. I had written for several years, completing four novels that I never tried to publish. I wrote these books in college while I was an undergraduate at Azusa Pacific University and the University of Northwestern Saint Paul. I wrote during the summer, winter, and spring breaks. But I lacked daily writing discipline.
I found discipline by reading about other storytellers. Some wrote two stories at once, others churned out books like cars on an assembly line. Still others worked on books for years. But what about me. What would work for me?
When I eventually mastered a daily writing habit, I was working three jobs and going to graduate school full time. I started writing at 4 a.m. because I had to catch the six o’clock bus to work. After work, I took the bus to the local mall and then walk two miles to my second job as a janitor at a preschool. Then, when I was done, I’d walk two miles back to the mall and return home at 11:00 p.m.
I did all this as a student, a husband, and a father.
I settled on my particular writing habit because I struggle with feeling down often. Many days it is hard for me to talk to people because I get anxious and afraid. I write in a way that helps me overcome my weaknesses. I can’t write two books at once. I can’t write a book in two revisions, but I can write two pages day, after day, after day until the job is done. And when I am done writing, I close my computer and won’t touch my story until the next morning. For me it’s like lifting weights and exercising. You can only run for so long before taking time to rest. Remember that story of the tortoise and the hare. Do you remember who won the race? The tortoise.
Consistant slow steps will always bring you closer to your goal. So be patient and learn to enjoy the journey. You’ll find that with a consistent writing discipline that you’ll do far more than you ever thought possible.