If your question is, how do I become a writer, the simple answer is, “Start writing!” Yes, it’s as unpretentious as that. “But I don’t know what to write!” is the common complaint I’ve heard. Check out my free gift!
The world has come a long way from typewriters, newspapers and libraries. Now, you can find anything you want (and a whole lot that you don’t) on the internet. It’s an amazing source of information; use it! Type in what you’re interested in learning about and watch the results fill your screen. Okay, so they can be overwhelming. My FAQ page lists some of the sites I like spending time at.
Mistakes I made
How did I start my writing adventure? My idea came from a dream – very cliché, I know, but it’s the truth! I was so inspired by my dream that I just started writing. Then I realized that I was employing the “aim, fire, ready” process. In other words, I had no clear idea of where I was going or what I wanted to achieve. I had no plan. And believe me, if you want to get somewhere, you’d better have a plan! I didn’t have an outline, I didn’t have any character sketches, no understanding of where things were going or how I wanted to deal with certain issues. It was time to go back to the beginning.
I began outlining – duh, simple concept, right? Then I began working on my characters. And only then did I go back to writing. Then I made the mistake of spending months on just the first page. Rookie mistake, I know, I know! I was trying to get that first page perfect. And you know what – if given more time, I bet I could work on it for another decade and still not feel like it was just right. (Yeah, I’m a bit of a perfectionist!)
About four years later, I got some advice that I think you’ll find useful – when you sit down to write, just write. Let it land on the paper as it comes to you. Don’t correct errors or grammar or thoughts that you don’t like as soon as you put them down on paper; just write it all down and don’t go back and second guess yourself. It’s when you get to editing that you can clear through the muck and salvage the gems worth saving.
And that was when I worked out that I had made another fundamental error. Although I had an outline for the book, chapter by chapter, with broad brush strokes for each chapter, I hadn’t done that for each chapter in depth before I began writing. Time to break those babies down into something I could write about. You’ll find that the more you have an idea of what it is you want to achiever in a chapter, the easier it is to write. And outlining does not need to be an intensive, fear inspiring, sweat-inducing exercise!
Plan on spending about ten minutes outlining your upcoming chapter BEFORE you start writing it and you’ll find the writing process flows better. (Sometimes, outlining the chapter takes a little longer, but give yourself a time limit – or you could end up on the proverbial hamster wheel again, going round and round in circles and not actually going anywhere with your writing).
The last thing that I should mention, but which is perhaps the most important: be consistent with your writing. Make sure you set aside at least an hour a day (or whatever your pre-determined time limit is). Yes, there will be some days where the wheels totally fall off the bus because life gets in the way; but let those days be the exception rather than the rule. Ever heard the saying, “Count your pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves”? It’s the same thing with writing (or any large project for that matter). Breaking it down into bite-sizes pieces that you can do each day will eventually give you the whole cake; which in your case, will be a completed book.
Let’s sum up then:
- Get your book idea (see my free gift if you’re stuck with this part)
- Spend time outlining and planning before you start writing ANYTHING
- Once you start writing, don’t spend excessive time trying to get each and every sentence perfect
- When you write, focus more on getting the words onto paper than on grammar/spelling/the order things will happen in; this is where your first round of editing will smooth things out
- Before you start each day’s writing time, make sure you have outlined what you want to accomplish in that chapter/section so that your writing comes more easily. This will also help with you figuring out some sort of order for the chapter/section so you won’t have to spend as much time editing later.
- Be consistent and plan to put in the work EVERY day
I hope these tips will help you bypass some of the mistakes I’ve made. Go write!