Everyone is unique, interesting, and has something to say!

That's a quote from one of my favorite books on writing, Brenda Ueland's "If You Want  to Write".  I think it's absolutely true, and it's also true that everyone's journey is unique. Please remember that, and don't get discouraged! It is so very easy to become disheartened. That happened to me a lot when I was younger.

I didn't want to hear that every successful novelist had at least one novel hidden a trunk - a novel they hid because it  was so bad. I didn't want to hear that the first 100,000 words everyone wrote were junk. How was that helpful? Heck, I still don't want to hear these things! If you're going to actually write anything, much better to focus on the positive - on what you love, the stories you want to tell, and the people you want to reach. Then keep working, because your story is unique to you, and no one else can tell it. That's what I think. But-

At the same time, as I've worked at finishing novels, I've come to realize that there is some truth to those old bromides. I actually do have something like a "trunk novel" - a story I started, but gave up on because it was, frankly, pretty bad. That's not to say I might not return to it sometime down the road and make something good of it - there's a character or two that might be worth developing further. But we will take false paths and make mistakes on our journeys. That's okay. We just have to recognize that these things didn't work for us, put them behind us, and keep going.

As to the hundred thousand words, or million words, or whatever arbitrary number you might come across - don't worry about that at all. A few years ago, my sister interviewed Megan Whalen Turner for a podcast. I was lucky enough to participate in this interview. Ms. Turner, who is charming, said that whatever you wrote counted as practice writing. Letters, journal entries, essays - anything at all you wrote attentively and consciously, even a to-do list (I suppose) could teach you about writing. It's all grist to the mill. That was so good to hear! And, like Brenda Ueland's quote, it's very encouraging. So-

If you want to write, write. Just do it - it doesn't matter what, whether brainstorming lists or letters or articles or stories or essays or poems. Just keep writing, and let the writing teach you. You WILL make progress, in your own way. You have a story to tell that no one else can tell for you. So keep going!

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Really, if I have a New Year's resolution (aside from getting up earlier, which I'm not doing to well at yet!), that's it. Keep going! Your story is unique, whatever it is, and there can't be too many good stories in the world.