The Inside Secret to Writing

“What’s your secret?” “How do you do it?” Authors hear those questions a lot. I’m going to let you in on the big secret:  in the middle of the night, people wearing dark green robes kidnap you and hold a ritual where sacrifices are made, oaths are taken, and a manuscript is presented to you to write. Every author secretly has a tattoo from this organization on them, and reveal them to other authors to prove that they are published. The mafia lives in fear of this organization.

All joking aside, I remember wanting to be an author and get a great idea published, but didn’t know what every author had that I didn’t. What was their secret? How did they go about getting that idea down? Where do they get the magic fairy dust to sprinkle on their work so it sounds as awesome as I read it?

The secret that authors have stumbled upon as far as writing can be explained in 2 axiomatic words: DO IT. There’s a whole lot behind those two words, and it’s seeing what’s behind that will give aspiring authors the success they want.

DO IT #1: If it’s important, make it a priority. I’ve heard several aspiring authors talk about great ideas for novels. Many of them are better than my ideas. But when it comes down to it, the difference is that instead of beating Halo 3… again… authors sat and wrote. There is enough distraction in the world that people can spend their entire lives and not accomplish anything, but look like they were busy. The hard part is that we often make these choices without thinking. For me, my big struggle was not watching House. It was a relaxing break from work and college to simply drop myself on the couch and not move until TBS stopped showing episodes. But then my ART 101 professor stopped his lecture on Renaissance masters and said, “imagine how many more Da Vinci’s there could be in the world if it weren’t for World of Warcraft.” I knew I wasn’t like them. Even gamers refer to it as WarCrack. But then I turn around and watch TV. Make the choice to sit and write. I don’t think TBS missed me.




DO IT #2: There’s no such thing as good writing. There’s only good rewriting. A lot of great authors never even put their pens to paper after the initial chapter because the idea sounds stupid. Almost any published author will say “and?” This part of “DO IT” means do it anyways. Keep writing. The first draft of a work probably won’t get published. Many times, not even the second, third, or fourth draft will published. But that isn’t enough reason to quit. Some writers have a rule of thumb that there will be ten complete rounds of editing before submitting a work for publication. Learn to love editing. The cool part is, this is where you can recruit others. If you’re working on something, chances are your friends have heard about it. Let them take a look at it. They’ll see ideas and mistakes you hadn’t even thought of. Encourage that. Angela Carlie, a young adult author I follow, sends out unpublished copies of her novels to her critique groups to let them slash through it with a red pen. I’ve even had the privilege of reading through Loramendi’s Story before it hit bookstores. It’s a win-win situation. I got to read new books, and she got a fresh set of eyes on a story she’s made sacrifices to write. I employed that with Hallow Terrace, the next book in the Juniper Crescent series, and it’s amazing how much support I got. Basically, write. Once you have it on paper, take a break, then go back through it and fix it up. Whether it’s an essay for school or the novel you’ve been toying with for months, it works.

DO IT #3: No time is better than the present. You just had the coolest daydream ever, and you think it would make a great story. What are you waiting for? Pull out a notebook, text it to yourself, email it to yourself, but find someway to get that idea on paper. I keep a notebook on me that I use whenever the spontaneous idea hits me. Guaranteed I’ll forget it throughout the mad dash of the day, but, if I took 5 seconds to write the idea down, that has often been the seed I need to motivate and inspire my writing. Ideas are everywhere, it’s just a matter of someone with a pen and paper capturing it.


4 thoughts on “The Inside Secret to Writing

  1. I completely agree with all of this. Especially the parts about editing. I’m currently editing my second novel (I’ve written three) and it’s a pain. But it’s worth it. The book also includes genetic modifications, just in a much different way. I wish you luck on future endeavors, Tony Graff!

  2. First, thanks for sharing your experiences! I think that any author who has ever finished writing one or more novels knows about a lot of the things discussed here. When I receive a manuscript that isn’t 100% I generally advise a revision and/or offer developmental editing services.

    On a more personal note, this is my favorite sentence and I do this, too:

    “I keep a notebook on me that I use whenever the spontaneous idea hits me.”

    I bought a little notebook that says “ideas” on the front and that thing stays in my purse at all times unless I’m referencing it for ideas previously written down =).

    I stumbled on your site by accident while writing a hub about varying writing styles and methods for novelists. I loved your opening, so I had to keep reading and shared the advice about revising on my Facebook. I’m always trying to tell authors to revise and a lot of the younger ones don’t really do that until they learn that it’s a vital step.

    Hope you’re having a wonderful week – it was a pleasure reading!


      • I think if you said anything other than you would be learning it for the rest of your life, I’d immediately write you off as an arrogant person =).

        Continuing to learn is the point – always! Plus it opens the door for collaboration and teaching others.

        Happy Tuesday!

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