Writing Advice by Mary Duncanson

TCK_500I talk to people all the time who tell me they want to be a writer, and ask me for advice. I always tell them the canned advice: If you want to be a writer, you just have to write.


Easy advice and I feel satisfied after because I truly believe it.


Thing is, it isn’t as easy as that advice. Life is complicated. We all have distractions out our hoo-haas and we’re expected to function in a world that is always moving, while performing a job that makes us sit still. Distractions fly at us like sparks but instead of setting our momentum on fire, a lot of times they tend to make it go up in smoke.


It’s been a year since I quit my job and vowed to write full-time and I have to tell you, man, it’s hard! Every day I set out with the same goal in mind: I’m going to put in hours today like this is my full-time job.


So, I start writing, and then the dogs fight. I feed them, play with them, get them water. Then I start writing and someone knocks on my door. So I take a break, check e-mail, check Facebook. Back to writing, then I remember I haven’t walked on the treadmill yet that day (every day for the past 63 days, BTW), so I stop to put in my walking time. Then I eat a meal and watch a show. Back to writing, I have to pee. Start reading a book while I’m peeing, feel gross because of the treadmill, so I take a shower. Back to writing, the dogs are going crazy again. Cat is in my lap, wants attention immediately. Mom sends an e-mail, wants something. Grandpa wants me to research something for him. Check Facebook. Watch another show. Eat another meal. Back to writing, but all momentum is lost and now I’m staring at the screen trying to think, “How do I make this sex scene not seem so boring?”

Also, never thought of my sex scenes as boring until I finished Unspoken Trouble and my Mother told me the sex scene read more like an informational manual and it didn’t turn her on.

Little grossed out at the idea of turning my mom on, probably another reason I now suffer through the sex scenes.

Still staring, maybe I’ll write a series of books about nuns. They don’t have sex.

Dogs are fighting again, or maybe just want my attention. It’s almost time for bed and I feel as if nothing is done.


I fail at my own advice on nearly a daily basis. I tell people if they want to be a writer, just write, but most days I’m lucky to hit a working word count. Thing is, I keep trying. Every day. Whether I feel like crap, or my family wants my time, or the dogs won’t quit, or I simply don’t want to, I do it anyway.


That’s my new advice, I think. Yes, as a writer you have to write. The only way to finish a novel is to slap those words onto the page no matter how crappy they end up. But that isn’t it. More than that, and possibly as important, is you have to keep trying. No matter what.


That’s what I do. I might not have the full-time hours I am trying so desperately to achieve, but every day my butt is in that chair and my fingers are on the keyboard. Someday that’s how I will have made it as a writer.


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