March 11, 2015

Guest Post: The One Piece Of Writing Advice I Wish I’d Known Sooner by Aisha Saeed



 Hey, Misfiteers! Today on the blog we have the fantastic Aisha Saeed, author of the upcoming (March 24! But available for preorder now, of course.) YA debut Written in the Stars. (More on the book below!) Today, Aisha's sharing the one piece of writing advice she wishes she'd known sooner, and since she's far more eloquent than I am, I'll let her take it away!
 ***
The One Piece Of Writing Advice I Wish I’d Known Sooner
Aisha Saeed
Just as many times as people stare at me like I sprouted a kiwi fruit from my left ear when I inform them I'm a writer, I meet people who are impressed- who wistfully say, I always wanted to write a book. I have this great idea. . . and look at me as if I'd walked to the moon.

I understand this envy-tinged awe because I used to be this way. As a child I wrote before bedtime, when I came home from school, during math class, ideas came to me like raindrops in a storm- but as I got older I grew increasingly nervous about my abilities. I began reading books on 'how to write' and taking writing workshops, and attending book readings to ask the author for advice. I spent a good solid five years looking up advice on how to write, and now, I realize that those were five years wasted- because the only true advice that counts for anything when it comes to how to write is to:
Just write

It sounds so obvious- but the problem is that for someone who wants to write but doesn't- the biggest challenge is sitting down and getting started. You think: I can't just write? Whenever I sit try my words looks like gibberish a two year old penned. No one in their right mind would publish this! And then after protesting, click on yet another writing blog, or pick up another book and read about. . . writing.

The truth is, you can't read about painting and sketch like Van Gogh, you can't read about basketball and dunk like Kobe, you must do it again and again. You must practice. You think what you've written is jibberish? Write it down anyways. The idea of an 80,000 word novel making you want to hide under your bed? Write a chapter. A page. A sentence. Will your initial foray into writing be bad? Maybe. But I doubt Lebron James got each ball in the hoop when he first began, or that Picasso's first drawing was worthy of a million dollar purchase-price- it takes time.
According to Outliers, it takes 10,000 hours to achieve genius level in your particular field- the only way to get those hours is to put it the blood, sweat, and tears, and just write.

That's the part I failed to realize. I thought writing was sexy and elusive- that writers sat down at their desks, took a sip of red wine sighed and began penning away the next Booker Prize- but writing is four parts drudgery and two parts creative hypnotic bliss. Writing is hard- some days its boring- some days the words don't fit right, but you have to keep on going. This is what I did in writing my debut Written in the Stars, there were days I did give up on it entirely because it was difficult or confusing and well, twitter just seemed so interesting at the moment, but I kept going until I finished it and I can tell you with confidence that published or not, that moment you close your laptop and say I just finished my first novel is a very special feeling.

What I'm sharing may seem obvious, but it is advice I wish I had encountered before I spent my money, and worse still five years of my life reading up on how to be a writer. There is benefit in reading writing websites and reading books on writing and taking writing courses, but the actual writing- that's up to you to do. Write and rewrite and then write again- and you will succeed with your goal. There is simply no other way.  

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.


Aisha Saeed is a YA author, attorney, and educator and one of the founding members of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. Her upcoming debut Written in the Stars will be released in 2015 by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. Visit her online at www.aishasaeed.com or follow her on twitter and tumblr: @aishacs. 

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