Let me guess: You’ve always wanted to be writer, but you could never quite bridge the gap between “wanting” and “being.”
Don’t worry, you’re in good company. And the desire to be called a writer is the first step on the write road.
Ironically, nothing stands between you and being a writer except for the act of writing. Writers write. It’s not all they do, but it’s the single thing they have in common, and without it, nothing else matters.
Now, don’t get me wrong. In order to become a good writer, you may have to take workshops, study literature, and read a great deal of books. But all those won’t help you one bit unless you are first a writer. As in someone who writes. You can’t perfect a skill without exercising it.
How to Begin Writing
There are so many paths that can lead you to complete a story or book. Find one that works for you best. Here are some ideas:
- Start with your passion. Is there a story you’re eager to tell? Do you have some idea for a character, a scene, a climax, a book section, a good quote, or anything that might develop into a complete work? Start writing as much as you can around it. Take that speck of imagination and twist it forward, backward, and sideways until you’ve milked a full story out of it.
- Start with a character. Think up a character and start fleshing it out. Who is she? How old is she? How did she grow up? And most important, what is her dearest wish? That is the driving force of the story. If your character wants something, all you have to do is pile obstacles in her way and watch her struggle. That’s conflict and drama right there.
- Start with a writing prompt. Writing prompts can send you on unexpected journeys. Look for the good, meaty ones and let your imagination feast on them. Try taking two or three prompts and weaving them into a single work. Sometimes just by mixing strange ideas we find unexpected beauty.
- Start writing about your story. Instead of writing the story right away, pretend you’re telling a friend about it and write down the major points. Even more fun, pretend you’ve published the book and you’re being interviewed about it. What do you like about it? Which parts were harder to write and why? Imagining the piece is already done will loosen up your fingers and help you start it.
- Start writing fanfiction. No, don’t knock it until you try it. People may look down on fanfiction as a lower form of art, but learning the craft via fanfiction has tons of benefits: you have a ready-made world and characters, and fans who are eager to read more about them. You can also easily find a beta reader who will help you write better. Take a look at your favorite books or TV series over at Archive of Our Own, and try to ride their wave.
What to Expect?
“Your first million words don’t count,” it’s been said. True or not, get used to the idea that you’ll be writing a lot before you become a competent writer. Just slog on, stay calm, and keep writing. Good writers become good because they refuse to quit, and because they always aspire to better their craft. That can be you, too, if you only choose to make it so.
Tal Valante •