Have you given yourself the permission to write yet? Why not? I know it sounds simplistic but it is really that simple. I am not saying you won't make mistakes along the way - we all do - and it is part of the craft. We all have gotten very concerned with mechanics and technicalities and yes, they are an important part of writing. However, too many writers, early in their career, can get so caught up in these two components as to deny themselves the permission to write.

I was having a conversation with another writer who has written poetry since he/she was 16 years old and now is taking that big step into attempting a fiction/romance novel. The story is there but the writer feels so caught up in technicalities that, to quote the person, "The opening is so technical, it is a snooze." This person continued on to ask how to handle a timeline as he/she has a lot of detail in it. Is that a problem?

I explained my background re: writing. It seems that I have always written poetry and now have branched out to short stories, articles, commentaries/editorials, novels and reviews. As far as my experience at writing novels, I have four that are W.I.P. - one a fantasy novel being reviewed and critiqued as I write this, one western complete looking for a home and a published western novel "Trawlaine's Land."

There are stumbling blocks we all have to watch out for in our own writing, two of which I call the Male and Female Syndromes. These are easy to spot in some novella and novels, the Female Syndrome (I will overdo just for sake of example): "Annie walked into the parlor of the old Victorian style home and, looking around the room, she notice that the furnishings were originals of the Victorian era that showed their age. The wallpaper was these darling little blue periwinkles on a pale brownish pink background."

The Male Syndrome: "Annie was ushered into the parlor of the Old Victorian home. The chairs and tables looked original and showed enough wear, everything seeming dusty and the wallpaper faded with blue flowers on what once must have been a pink background." They both said the same thing in entirely different ways, neither is wrong nor is either one totally well written. As writers, we should seek that fine spot somewhere between both styles, not overload the description nor make it so sparse as to not being believable. I'm not saying that either was one or the other, just different from one another.

Timelines: These get tricky. How many times have you written the events of a day in one of your stories only to find out that your day now has thirty-two hours? Oops! The main thing to do in writing is to pour your heart out on the page and keep on writing until you cover the entire story. Get it all down beginning, middle and end. End of step one.

Now you have your first full draft. Print it out and turn off the computer. Set the printed pages down and go on to the next thing or anything else for at least two weeks. Then pick up the printed pages and the writer's most important tool (other than the computer) - the dreaded "RED PEN" - and read what is on the page. It is best if you read it aloud. That way you hear the 'voice' and you can start making corrections, changes, deletions, and additions to your new masterpiece of wordsmithing. When you get your mind off the project for a couple of weeks and go back to it, you will find yourself asking, "Why did I say that?" "What did I mean here?" "When did I think they found time to do that?" All kinds of surprises we as writers do - I repeat DO - get caught up in our own stories and find that the story has changed itself as we slaved away with OUR idea. It is the fresh look that will help you out.

This is so important that I have to go over it once more. "POUR YOUR HEART OUT." Just write like the devil and write your beginning, middle and end, then let the story sit. After considerable time, go back to refining your work. You will not stagnate, as your full story is there and now you are fine tuning it and making it into the story you were really looking for. In the meantime, take a break, write some poetry, a commentary, an article or short story. I am always writing just not always writing the same entity.

Experience: Don't worry about your own lack of experience; even though it is another important tool, it is nothing to be concerned about. If you keep on writing, in any form of medium, the experience will come with it. Believe me, it just sneaks in and one day you look back and say to yourself, or hear someone say, how much experience you have. The only way you get experience is by going for it. We all start out as newborns: We crawl, then we toddle, stumbling along the way. One day we walk in the sun, and before you know it, you're on that dead run of a busy writer. People outside this craft will never know and really are not concerned with how much work goes into writing and if you compare time expended to monetary gains it never balances. We write because we love the written word. We will flub the dub and find ourselves clones of Snoopy: "It was a dark and stormy night," and writing clichés, sounding childish even to our own ears. However, that too will pass.

A critique and an experienced review before you submit for publication is very important; fresh eyes see the blanks and overloads. Remember: you may get so caught up in your story that you are on overload. The third-party look helps you clear up and tighten your work.

When writing, especially your very first novel, novella, short story, forget technology and mechanics, there are no rules to writing other than having a good strong story. Technology and mechanics can be gotten through your writing program, i.e.: MS Word. You have a story to tell, real or fiction, so sit down and tell it. Tell it like you were talking to your confidant, tell it in that special way about how you feel, what makes you all tingly, what happened that gave you that nice warm fuzzy feeling deep in your gut. You only have "The Story." Just let yourself loose, give yourself permission to say what you feel or think. You are sharing your deepest dark secrets to your confidant, in a dimly lit room, relaxed with no outside tension, wanting your reader to see into your soul. When you start letting it out like that there will be no stopping you.

Keep on talking with your fingers, use the keyboard as your vocal chords, and just keep on writing....