I recently had a conversation with my sister about how to get started writing. And, of course, I found myself with lots of advice. That calls for a blog post, right? So here goes.
10 Ways to Start Writing in 2016
- Sit down every day and WRITE SOMETHING. Write anything. Maybe it’s just a bad poem. Maybe it’s a character sketch. A short story. A non-fiction piece. A couple pages of that novel. It doesn’t matter. Just write. Writing, like everything else, takes practice. You only get better at it, when you consistently pursue it. Find a regular time, put your butt in the chair, and write.
Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. -Louis L’Amour
2. Pants it. Talking to non-writers, I’ve realized there’s this idea that authors know exactly what will happen in their story before they sit down and write it. And therefore, if you don’t have everything nailed down, you can’t begin writing that novel. But nothing could be further from the truth. Writing is often an act of discovery. Many authors sit down with a basic idea of their book. But often, it’s not all spelled out. Sometimes authors just have a distinct character and voice when they begin writing. Maybe they just have an awesome premise and begin writing. Some have a detailed outline, but even then new things come out of the writing. I usually have a few scenes in my head. I know where the story ends, and I always know the climax, but everything between those two points is discovered in the process.
Creativity is a continual surprise. -Ray Bradbury
3. Let go of perfectionism. Your first draft will be far from perfect. In fact it won’t even be close. Don’t stop because you aren’t living up to your expectations. I keep these quotes in mind when drafting.
Bad writing precedes good writing. This is an infallible rule, so don’t waste time trying to avoid bad writing. (That just slows down the process.) Anything committed to paper can be changed. The idea is to start and then go from there. -Janet Hulstrand
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” -Shannon Hale
4. Commit to rewriting or revising. Several times. The saying goes that all writing is rewriting, and that’s true.
5. Find a critique partner. Not someone you are close with or know well. You want someone who will be able to give it to you straight without damaging a pre-existing relationship, or killing your self esteem. Here is a list of places you can find a critique partner.
6. Join the Blueboards. The blueboards are a forum for children’s writers and illustrators. It’s now part of the SCBWI website, but you don’t have to bee a SCBWI member to participate. In my beginning days of writing, it was chock full of information . Not just on how to write well, but on new publishers, magazine markets, etc. to help you get those first publishing credits.
7. Prepare for a learning curve. I’ve been writing for 3.5 years now, and feel like things have only really started clicking for me in the last 6-12 months. Prepare to practice your craft for years before finding success. This is the norm for almost everyone.
8. Be ambitious. Be honest about what you want out of writing. It’s okay to admit that you want to see your book on the shelf one day. Don’t be afraid of writing a story even if you know you’re not good enough to write it yet. You’ll get good enough. I’ve learned that if the story idea doesn’t scare me a little, it’s not worth my time.
9. Prepare yourself for rejection. When you start putting your work out into the world, it’s going to come back to you with a lot of “No thank you’s”. That’s okay. It means you’re going after your dreams! Don’t be afraid of the rejection. It’s part of the journey. You can’t succeed without risking rejection. And if the rejection scares you, go find your favorite books on Amazon or Goodreads and find the one-star reviews. It will make you feel better when you realize, not everyone is going to like your work. That’s okay. What’s important is that you continually try to learn and improve from your rejections.
“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
10. Have fun. But keep going even when it’s not fun, until it becomes fun again. Ride the highs and the lows. Enjoy the journey.