You open the door to the workshop. The master woodworker is busy at his bench, sanding down the finishing touches on his latest creation.
"So, you want to become a master, do you?" he asks.
"Any questions before we begin?"
You rub your hands together. "Yes, sir. What's the key to it all? How can I become a master woodworker like yourself? There must be one thing you can tell me."
"There is," he says. "And it is simple."
"I knew it," you say, excited to finally hear the secret to the master woodworker's success. "Please share, sir. What is it?"
"Create sawdust," he says.
"What?!? Create . . . sawdust? What do you mean by that, sir?"
"In order to become a master," he says, "you need to put in the work . . . and create sawdust. Lots of it."
What irritates me about a lot of Q & A sessions authors have with fans and/or wanna-be writers is that everyone thinks there's some magical key to success. "How do I create scenes that resonate with my readers?" "How can I increase the tension in my story?" "How can I make my characters more believable?" And on and on . . .
Writing advice can be broken down into six simple words: read a lot, write a lot. That's it. In other words, as with the master woodworker story above, you need to create sawdust. What you write in the beginning isn't a masterpiece, so don't treat it as such. Just write. Write as if you're practicing for the big story.
Write. A lot.
If you read a lot of stories, you'll know how good stories are put together--and you'll also recognize how bad writing is . . . well, bad. But don't just study stories, you also need to write them. I learned a lot about writing back in college when I wrote my first novel. Some of it I didn't recognize until years later (yes, I thought it was a masterpiece at the time).
If you want to become a successful write, then write. Create sawdust. You can't reuse sawdust and make a bird house or tool chest or even a house. It's throwaway wood. But it doesn't matter. Write anyway.
The world depends on it. The world needs you.
So write. Today. Create the equivalent to sawdust.