They say that when you reach the end of your life, it’s not the things you did that you regret, it’s the things you didn’t do.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve wanted to write fiction since the fifth grade, and even though I put it off for over twenty-five years, I’ll be able to die (at least a hundred years from now) happy that I was able to chase after that dream.
Even if my current level of success is the highest I’ll ever reach, it’s so much better to try and fail than live out your life to the end without ever trying.
But…there’s always a but…I do have one big regret about writing.
And that is that I did put it off for so long.
Yesterday, a writer I follow on Twitter said she was going to be speaking to a room full of sixth graders in a few hours. When I saw that tweet, I immediately had three thoughts:
- Hey, that sounds cool.
- Hey, that also sounds hard.
- Hey, I wonder what I would say to a room full of sixth graders.
So it got the old hamster on a wheel inside my head spinning and I spent the drive home from the day job thinking about what I would say about writing to a group of kids in their early teens.
And it pretty much comes back to what I would say to that little fifth grade me sitting there thinking about how cool it would be to be a writer when I grew up.
So with that in my head, here are the ten things I would say to a kid who wants to be a writer someday, or an adult who still does.
- Start. Right. Now. The longer you put it off, the further behind you’ll be.
- Read everything you can. Try fiction, non-fiction, and every genre you can think of. The more you read, the more you learn.
- Write every day without exception. It’s the only way you’ll gain the experience and discipline it takes to make it.
- Try writing in all sorts of genres. You’ll discover which ones you’re good at.
- Don’t be afraid to tell people that you write. You’ll need “space” when you’re working and how can someone give you space if they don’t know why you need it?
- Get used to being around family and friends who don’t “get it.” Don’t try to make them understand. They won’t. Just keep doing what you’re doing.
- Find friends, either in the real world or online, who do “get it.” They will keep you encouraged.
- Reread # 3 and take it to heart.
- Be prepared to accept criticism. Not everyone will like your book. Not even God has 100% feedback on Amazon.
- You’re never too young and you’re never too old to write.
So there you have it. Start writing right now. And unfinished story is like uninvested cash. It only goes down in value.
Invest in your story, finish it, publish it.
Chase your dreams.