I had the pleasure of attending, with over 1,000 other Outlander fans, a lecture from Diana Gabaldon with some writing friends of mine. If you have been living on another planet, Outlander is an internationally best selling historical fiction book series that has become a TV phenomena all over the world. As writers, we often look at other authors and wonder how they got to this point in their careers.
I loved listening to her talk about how her famous Outlander series came about. Fun fact. She has a Ph.D. in behavioral ecology. She’s accomplished in her field. Got it. But her approach to writing Outlander was not necessarily tethered to her scientific background. I mean, it’s historical fiction, you know?
Here are some things that stood out to me in her presentation.
First, she gave three rules to aspiring writers.
1. Read a lot.
2. Write a lot.
3. Don’t stop.
So simple, really. No magic spells. Just diligent, consistent effort. We can all do that!
She also said that she didn’t know when she started out if it was going to be any good and she committed to doing two things at the outset of her project.
1. Do her best.
2. Finish the book-no matter what.
Love that! How many times have we all started something and then looked at it half way through and thought, “This is crap!” Well, no longer. Commit to finishing it (whatever it is) and commit to giving it your best effort. The rest comes from that.
If you look at her “rules”, they are beautiful in their simplicity. Read, write, don’t stop. Do your best. Finish the book no matter what.
Note: She didn’t say 1) You must be a genius or 2) You must have a master’s degree in Fine Arts or 3) Have magical powers.
Instead, she gave advice that every single one of us can follow regardless of our educational background or work status.
So pick up your pen and get started, folks. You won’t regret it!
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