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LUCKY DIP


"The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page."

Man-Booker Prize winner, Anne Enright, lists this as rule number two of her Ten Rules for Good Writing. It reminds me of a man I once knew who aspired to become an artist. Asked when he would paint his first picture he would answer that it was impossible to make a start because he didnít have a large studio flooded with natural light. As soon as he found the right studio, paint would begin to fly, he insisted. But in all the years I knew him he neither found the right place to work nor painted a single picture.

So what does his plight suggest to writers, and what does Anne Enright really mean? The message I take from both advice and anecdote is that whether it is a picture you long to paint, or a novel you plan to write, just make a start. Begin wherever you happen to be, using the materials you have to hand. Vincent van Gogh painted his star-studded skies with a lighted candle strapped to his hat; Anne Michaels wrote her beautiful debut novel, Fugitive Pieces, between the hours of 1am and 4am while her family were asleep.

Every day that you do not write is a day gone forever. If you want to write, and only if you do, start now.
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