A man wrote on one of the Facebook groups I follow that he has recently taken up writing. He bought the how to write books, he’s been looking into what’s required, and he finally stated it’s frustratingly tedious. At that point, he just decided he was going to write and it’s been all gravy since then. The people in the group supported him, saying now he’s on the right track. I refrained from injecting my thoughts.
To illustrate my thoughts on this, let’s use an analogy! Successful sport players start at a young age, usually early elementary school. Fundamentals are key at this point, and they play. At this stage in life you are more easily capable of learning. In middle school and high school they drill. You don’t just learn what the fundamentals are, but you spend hours a day in a gym learning them. You go to the weight room and lift. You dedicate a significant portion of your life to the sport. It is no longer just a game, and you no longer simply walk out onto the court or field and wing it. The majority will get no further, and if they do it will be in casual leagues. If someone decides to start late, they have to work harder. They need to dedicate more time and practice to the game, because they are behind everyone else. It’s frustrating, but if you want it, you will strive for it.
I’ve been an avid reader and writer since second grade. Maybe first grade, but I can’t remember. Those kids who were reading 400 pages a day were focusing on fundamentals. The writers who spend hours researching before putting a single word down, the ones who daydream and throw away a thousand concepts before finding a polished gem, the author who continues to read and study the craft are all going through the fundamentals, like the basketball player. It’s fun. It’s tedious. It’s frustrating. We do not research for the sake of research (actually I do, but not all the time). We research so our book doesn’t suck.
Why do you focus on the fundamentals? So you avoid plot holes, boring stories, massive inaccuracies, and the like. There was one book I read where the war consisted of one army marching across a vast country to the other army’s castle, and then they fought. A war is not one battle at the capital’s gates. It’s skirmishes, attacks and counter attacks, sieges, and siege weapons. Even if it only receives a paragraph. I get it. There weren’t even siege weapons. They went up to the door, broke a spell, and opened them. No bolts. No locks. No steel reinforcement. It was more or less, “Hey guys, we need to pick a lock using magic, and then we win.”
I am always learning the trade and refining my abilities, just as currently I’m refining my chapters and story to make it more cohesive, have fewer plot holes (with any luck none), and create something readers really enjoy. It irks me as much to hear someone say it’s a hobby as for someone to say this doesn’t take work and it should be all fun. Writing my two novels was a lot of fun. Editing them has not been.
So if you’re getting into writing, that’s awesome. If you’re doing it entirely for the pleasure, I think that’s great. Don’t listen to me. If you’re doing it because you want to make it a career and you’re just starting, remember there are a lot of people who sacrificed at a young age to start on this track. It’s not an easy one.