As the story was shared with me, Mark Twain was once invited to give a commencement speech to a graduating class at a school for future writers. For his appearance there, the celebrity was paid a rather handsome sum of money given the day and age that he lived in. As he approached the podium, the eyes of the graduates were glued to him. The crowd was stone silent for fear of missing a pearl of wisdom given by this legendary man, widely respected in the field that they all wanted to follow in.
Twain looked out over the crowd, and asked, "How many of you would be writers?" Not surprisingly, the entire crowd raised their hands in the air, for that, after all, was the whole purpose of their studies and their presence there on that day. The revered author looked out over the sea of hands and nodded. "Then get out there and write!" he said, and with that, he turned and left the stage leaving the audience stunned.
It is so easy to get caught up in the daydream of being the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. As an indie author, I am guilty of fantasizing about making my living by telling stories that grab at the heartstrings of legions of fans. Oh, hang on, the Netflix people are on the phone, I need to take this. It's only natural that those of us who want to live by our imagination can be so easily seduced into seeing ourselves in the limelight well before we have reached it, and all because we haven't done the most critical thing to make the dream come true. Something that is both so simple and at the same time so difficult to do.
Put the words (or paints, pencils, music - whatever your chosen art form may be) down on paper.
It doesn't have to even make sense, at least not at first. Write gibberish. Write notes about what you want the end result to feel like. Write banter between you and your characters, but put something down. It is the act itself of just getting started that tends to blow open the floodgates of our creativity. So many times I only have a snippet of dialogue, or see a singular event on the movie screen of my mind that screams to be set down before it wanders off into the dark recesses of forgotten inspirations. I find that once I get through even the first couple of sentences, the words start of their own accord and, barring any outside interruptions, can find the strength to run for miles.
So this is for all of the folks out there who feel like there is a story inside of them. For every daydreamer with a tale to tell. For every person who ever said, "yeah, I thought about writing a book about [insert topic] once." Don't take it from me. Take the simple but ridiculously overpriced advice given by Mr. Samuel Clemens.
Get out there and write.