>I have a treat for you today! A guest post by New York Times Best Seller Julie Metz!
(I’m off to work for a 12.5 hr shift wearing my new uniform – tights, skirt, white dress shirt and a vest. So not my look!)
A few thoughts on writing.
After my husband’s sudden death in January 2003 and the subsequent revelation of his affairs, several friends suggested that I write a book about my experiences. I was not a professional writer, so initially I dismissed the idea.
Some time later I ran into a woman I will call Laura, a writer I knew in my town. Laura invited me to lunch at a local diner.
Over tuna melts, she said, “I hear you’re writing a book!”
The friends who had made the original suggestion clearly hadn’t taken my original no for an answer. In fact, in the way that often happens when people are sure they have a brilliant idea for you, they hadn’t even listened to the no at all. My no was a yes. In their mind I was already hard at work.
I told Laura I wasn’t planning to write a book.
Now Laura’s manner is something like the most kindly but rigorous teacher you ever had in high school. She never takes no for an answer. In fact, she urged me in the most forceful way to give writing a try. She sent me home with advice that sounded like a doctor’s prescription:
“Sit at your writing desk for twenty minutes a day, she insisted. “And call me next week. We’ll have another lunch. And re-read Jane Eyre. It’s a memoir in fictional form.”
In the beginning it was more like two or three days a week, but gradually writing became a daily habit. I enjoyed our talks over tuna melts and to this day I associate this particular sandwich with my early writing days. If I need writing comfort food, I head straight to a diner.
[A note here on the importance of work breaks…When I am home, I take a 3pm break. It always involves chocolate. I buy good quality chocolate—dark, sometimes with nuts. My colleague with whom I work on design projects makes a killer cup of hot chocolate. That works too. Her secret is vanilla…but I dare not give out her super secret recipe…]
Just sit and write. In the end this remains the best advice I received. Just sit and write, whether you feel like it or not. Know that you can always throw out whatever you hate later. No one has to read your first drafts. The writing process won’t always be easy but with diligence it will become an essential part of your life.
To this I would add that it is important to read good books in the genre you are working in—excellent reading will inspire and instruct.
Julie Metz is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Perfection, which was a 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. The recipient of a MacDowell fellowship, her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Glamour, Hemispheres, Wowowow.com (The Women on the Web), and the story site mrbellersneighborhood.com. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.