Try writing, you may really enjoy it

This is the first in a series of blog posts on writing, editing and story telling. I will be glad to answer any questions.

Every now and then someone, after learning I’m a journalist and writer, will say something along the lines of I’d like to write a book or some poetry. Or I couldn’t do that.

My response is always a version of “Get started. You learned to walk, to ride a bike, drive a car—writing is the same. You only learn by doing.”

You may not end up a famous writer or poet but you can certainly learn to a create a book or a sonnet that means something to you at least. Odds are that it will to others as well.

One of the best ways to try your hand at writing is participating in National Novel Writing Month, which is held every November. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a first draft in 30 days. That’s about 1,700 words a day, not easy but not impossible. You’ll learn to make time every day for writing.

The important point to remember is if you only reach 3,000 words or 27,000, you have taken an important first step. NaNo is cleverly designed to encourage you along the way with ideas to keep you motivated and writing.

Start by going to, join and pick your region so you can become involved in a local NaNo group if there is one. In Ottawa, there is a very active chapter and you can meet plenty of others-fledgling and experienced. You’ll find a lot of helpful folks.

Remember you’re writing a first draft. It’s like going on a long walk; you just keep typing. Don’t edit. Read what you’ve written only for reference. Don’t worry if you regard what you type one day as a pile of drivel. Think of it as idea trying to get out. Or a character or a plot trying to take shape.

The great thing about writing on a computer is you can save copies of everything you write. So, an idea or plot twist that doesn’t fit in the end can be stored for use in another story.

Back up whatever you write. I have a second email account that I send whatever story I’m working on to with the date in the message. Use memory sticks or an exterior drive or one of the cloud storage systems.

In future posts, I will provide editing tips that I’ve learned working as journalist for many years and as an author for the last 10 years or so.

But remember if you don’t try to write, you’ll never find out that you can.