The Writing Process: The Beginning of Forever

“Forever’s gonna start tonight.” – Bonnie Tyler, Total Eclipse of the Heart

Great, now I have that song in my head instead of the words I need for this post.

But now that I’m thinking about it, that song could be about the writing process. It really can be quite a roller-coaster.

Forever can start right now, and it only takes one word. The process of writing a book begins with writing the first sentence. That may seem overly obvious, but it needs to be said.

Two weeks ago, I said that you didn’t have to wait for an idea to blossom in order to start writing. If you did, you could end up waiting forever, and never write word one of your book. Wouldn’t that be terrible? The book would roll around in your head like a catchy song, but you’d never write it, because you were waiting for it to be “finished.” Don’t do that, please.

You don’t need a brilliant first line. If you have one, that’s great, but if you don’t, you can change it later. The point is to write that first sentence. Maybe a character wakes up, or maybe somebody hears a sound, or perhaps a light comes on in a small room.

After you’ve written that first line, write another. The only way to finish a book is to write every word of it. It shouldn’t make you bleed, but it will probably make you sweat, and you might even shed some tears, but that’s okay. You’ll need time, which is the most important thing. A seed can’t become a plant without some time for the cells to divide, being nourished by the energy stored for it by the parent plant. Once its own machinery is ready, it needs time to take water, carbon dioxide, and nutrients from the earth, and with the help of energy from the sun, turn it all into more plant cells. The process takes time and is arduous. Cell by cell, word by word, thought by thought, take now, and on paper or a screen, turn it into forever.

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