Writing Tip 9 is this: you just make it up.

That’s the amazing thing about writing. You just make it up. Most art is that way. If you’re caught trying to write the right thing, or think it’s out there and you’ve got to write it down from some muse or some ethereal scribe, you’re going to be rather frustrated. In reality, you’re just making it up. Especially in fiction, which makes fiction a lot easier to write than nonfiction or research-based writing, which you can’t make up. There was a day in journalism where you could make it up, but apparently that’s changed a smidge these days.

So, realize this tip and settle it in your head. You just make it up. You’re sitting there wanting to write a story. Well, you just make it up. You can plan an outline, you can play with all kinds of things in preparation, but in the actual process of writing, you just make it up.

For example, you don’t need to waste time trying to decide a character’s name. You may feel pressured to figure out the most perfect and awesome name before you start writing. But it doesn’t need to be awesome, it just needs to be a name. I remember when I was in school at the University of Alabama, taking a creative writing class; one of the other students named her character Time. It’s not a good name, but everybody thought it was cool (and it was the late 1970s, so everything was cool). Whether it was a good name or not, that’s okay, it’s a name. Put the name Time in there. Time did this and Time did that—eventually you may find out you need to name him Seymour Sidney Johnson, because it fits the character better. Or maybe you named him Bob; I don’t know, but you can start with a filler and then you change it later on, because of the principle: you just make it up.

-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
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