You’ve decided that you have a love of writing and would like to pursue it further whether as a hobby or a career, but you just don’t know where to start. As someone who has “been there and done that”, I can sympathize with your predicament, so decided to compile some basic information that will help on your journey to discovering the imagination inside, and then putting it down in story form.
Take it slow
The very first thing you need to remember is to take it slow. Don’t become too overwhelmed by all the possibilities, story ideas, or writing information. I know it’s easier said than done, but the last thing you want to do is to become so bogged down that you just don’t write at all. Also, a lot of pressure can have a negative effect to your creativity, so try to keep it positive and fun!
Get the story out of your head
If you have a great story idea then don’t let it disappear in the chaos of your head, get it down on paper! Even just a few short sentences to get the gist of what you want is fine. You can always go back and write it out later.
Keep a journal or notebook
Where do you put all those story ideas? If you haven’t already, then you need to keep a journal or notebook. It can be a paper notebook or files on a computer. Whatever works for you. Just make sure you put it somewhere you remember, so it won’t get lost, and it’s easily accessible.
If you feel the urge to write then do it, even if it’s for a few minutes. In fact, writing EVERYDAY is the best way to go. It keeps you in the habit of writing and the more you write the better you will get at it. So just let your thoughts pour onto the page (even if it doesn’t make sense). You have to get the junk out of your head before the real gold nuggets can be found.
Reading is very important. It can inspire new ideas for stories, but it can also teach you how to write. The best way to learn the craft is to study what other writers have done. So read and read often. Read about how to be a better writer, read the area you want to write in, read areas that interest you, read things that don’t interest you (even areas that may not interest you still have great writing, the point is to be open to new ideas no matter where they might come from).
Reading a variety of books, magazines, blogs, and more will give you a bigger toolbox to pull from and will widen your reading experience. That being said, keep in mind if you read bad writing then you may produce bad writing. Reading a badly formed novel or story every once in a while isn’t going to kill your writing abilities, in fact, it will show you what NOT to do. Just don’t steep yourself in it.
Another way to be a good writer is to practice, but more important that that is to rewrite pieces you’ve worked on. Don’t just write it and put it away. Keep writing and rewriting until you find something you like, then put it away and come back to it a few weeks later. This will allow you to learn to rework a piece until it becomes better and also it will eventually help you find your voice.
Voice is the unique tone in a story that makes it special and to stand out. This only comes with lots and lots and lots of practice. It also usually comes when you least expect it. Read my blog on Finding Your Writing Style and Voice for more information on Voice.
Getting feedback on writing is essential to any writer, but most especially in the beginning. It is how you will find out what areas of your writing need work and what areas you excel at. It is important though that you don’t rely on just anyone to give you that feedback. The best kind usually comes from fellow writers, but not always. I have read critiques from writers that were not very helpful at all.
They key is to look for someone who can give you constructive criticism that helps and doesn’t tear you down. If you find a person who gives you constructive criticism that resonates with you (and a part of you already knew that to be true), then that person is giving you the real help you need as a writer.
Join a Writing Group
This is the best way to find fellow writers whether you join a local writing group or find one online. It is important to be surrounded by people who think the same way you do. They will be instrumental in providing the support you need and will also be there to give you the feedback to make your work better. I found my writing group through www.meetup.com. Check them out and see if there is a writer’s group near you!
Discover Your Weakness and Strengths
When you first start out writing, you might feel like you have no strengths and all weaknesses. Believe it or not, this isn’t true. We all have areas that we are better at than others, even in the beginning. Yes, all of your writing will probably need help at some point in time, but there will be some things that you are naturally better at, and some you will need lots and lots of help to get right.
What I do, even now, is to I pick an area I feel I need the most help with and focus on that area only. Once I feel like my skills have improved enough, I go to the next area I want to work on, and so on. This keeps me from being too overwhelmed with what I don’t know and helps give me goals to shoot for. It’s also a lot easier to see progress if you focus on one area instead of jumping all over the place.
If you want to be a good writer than you need to set goals for yourself. This will keep you motivated to write and will keep it interesting. Set some short term and long term goals of what you want to accomplish in your writing and it will keep you moving forward. Also realize that life happens and that sometimes you’ll have to adjust those goals every once in a while.
Good luck with your writing experience and feel free to post comments with any questions you might have!