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If You Want to Write

I wrote and illustrated my first story when I was about five or six. My mom held on to it for me. Yet I didn't know that I wanted to be a writer until later.

If you already know you want to be a writer, lucky you! A lot of people come to writing later. There's no age limit -- you can start young, you can start not so young. The key is START.

I can hear you saying, "But what if I'm not good enough?" But, but, but. Your first efforts may be terrible, and that's perfectly okay. If you know how to ride a bike, do you remember your first lesson? It might have been a disaster. It might have gone well. With practice, though, you were probably pedaling around your neighborhood like mad in a short time. Were you then ready for the Tour de France? Of course not. Like bike riding or any other learned skill, writing well takes practice.

Get a notebook, or use your computer. Tell a story. Start with retelling something that happened to you. Don't worry if the story is good -- you're learning, just as you did on that bike. Right now, what you write is for your eyes only. No need to share.

Write as often as you can. I'm not going to say "Write every day." If you can, great. If you can't, because you're a caretaker for a child or parent, write when you can. I find getting up earlier gives me a chance to work in the quiet before the day begins. You may be better taking some time after everyone else is asleep. Writing is personal, and so is your writing schedule. Do what works for you.

I often tell students "The first draft is not the final draft." I wish I could claim to be the OG on that, but I swiped it from someone else, alas. Getting the first draft down is a great accomplishment, but it's just the beginning.

More to come.

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