Once upon a time, there was a hobo who lived on the streets. He was so poor, he had to sell his dog for money to keep alive. He wasn’t a writer. He wasn’t a salesman. He wasn’t an actor. He wasn’t rich. He was a nobody, and a seriously poor nobody.
Then, by a strange coincidence, the hobo bought tickets to a Tuesday night boxing match. Nothing much, just a simple ring fight. However, something happened to the hobo that night: he got an inspiration. Hurrying home, he got right to work on a story. Not a novel, but a movie script. In just 48 hours, he had crafted a full script for a boxing movie, that he then took to a director.
He offered to sell the script to the director, but under one condition: the director would have to cast the hobo as the main actor. This was a HUGE pitch: talk about rags-to-riches. The director didn’t like this arrangement, but eventually conceded. He bought the 48-hour script off a hobo-who-was-now-to-be-the-main-actor, created by a simple inspiration that happened inside a Tuesday night boxing match.
No one expected the motley movie to go off. Then, a miracle happened: it DID! The movie was an instant smash hit, among both critics and independent viewers. The movie produced a chain of sequels, and the hobo (Now famously rich) went on to act in other movies, also getting star reviews. He is now a legend among action movie stars.
Sound familiar? Maybe not, but that’s the true-life story of actor and writer Sylvester Stallone, star of the movie Rocky (Which was the one he concocted in 48 hours) the Rambo films, and more than a few others. The one thing I want to stress was that, before he was somebody, Stallone was probably worse-off than either you or I. Yet, through a hastily-written work of genius, he climbed to greatness.
This is the story I chose to tell you, but there are others: Charles Dickens didn’t get A Christmas Carol published until right before the deadline, Star Wars almost didn’t happen, and the famous Dr. Seuss picture books were rejected by over 50 publishers before it was finally accepted. Will power will (heh heh) take you a long way. The stories of the great authors and writers of the past would make great novels themselves.
However, this article isn’t about Dickens, Lucas, or Geisel. This article is about you. Once, all the great writers of that past were (shockingly, I know) not writers. They were ordinary people. They weren’t known for telling a great story, moving people with their prose, or swaying the minds of the audience. They probably didn’t even know their own potential.
So, my point is: Why don’t you just start (or finish) that book of yours?
Yeah, you may be part of a writer’s community. Yeah, you can take writing courses. Yeah, you can read William Zinsser’s On Writing Well backwards and forwards and upside-down. Yeah, you can be the world’s most ardent fan of fiction. But are you a writer? How can you be a writer if you haven’t started a book? If you only half-heartedly commit to 50-something words a day? Really?
It’s all about zeal, and commitment. I am a firm believer that every man, woman and child on this planet has something to say, and can therefore write a book, fiction or otherwise (I would recommend fiction because it requires almost no expertise whatsoever). You are a citizen on God’s green earth, and this means you have a capacity to write that would astound even you.
There are many people out there who would like to write, but say that they can’t. Tosh. You have 24 hours in every day. If you sleep for 8-12 hours, you have 12-16 hours in which you are not sleeping. Maybe you work for, I don’t know, 8-10 hours during the weekdays? Maybe a little more, maybe a little less? That leaves somewhere between 2-8 hours in which you watch movies, play video games, surf the internet, whatever. In a half an hour, I can easily write 500ish words on a novel of mine. Those who say “I’m too busy!” Don’t have a stray half of an hour that they can spare? This is no excuse.
Then, there are the sect of people that say “But I’m not good at writing!” or “I’m not creative enough!”. The first is easily fixed, and the second one is false. You’re not good at writing? Then write whatever crap you can manage and then send it to someone who is. Then, learn from them. Educate yourself. Don’t remain trapped in a prison of your own making. Secondly, I would go tell Stallone that one. I’m sure HE never thought he was a genius, yet he wrote an award-winning movie script in two days. Don’t underscore your own creativity. Learn to take inspiration from the smallest things.
The only person holding you back is you. You could make time to write, but don’t. You could sit down and think about a fantastical world that has not yet been invented, but don’t. Sometimes, all you need is that little push.
Well, consider this article that push. The final straw. Whether you have an unfinished or unstarted novel, get some signposts up. Make a schedule. Take thirty minutes out of your day to stroke your imagination and create a mythical story. If you already have a story, then finish it, for gosh sakes! If you don’t know where to start, don’t let that hold you back. Ask your friends what they would like to read about. Ask yourself that question.
Get out there and start that novel. Your future fans, be they small or great in number, are waiting for you.
GOOD LUCK, and HAPPY WRITING!