So you decide that you want to be a writer. You practice a little bit and find you enjoy it. You start to come up with grand ideas but aren’t sure where to start on a large project. So you learn. You read articles, listen to podcasts, and talk to other authors. You fill your days with advice and a million things to do and don’t do. And then you sit back down to write your beautiful idea and find yourself even more stuck than before.
Because now you know of all the bad ways to write and how horrible things can get. You try to type that first word but the advice of a hundred different opinions makes you unsure of which way to go. You reread your notes and burn all of the helpful quotes into your mind. Because heaven forbid if you forget any piece of advice. You shakily write a line then redline it repetitively until it is perfect. After two days, you have fifteen words.
It feels impossible. You know you have great ideas. You are clearly willing to do the work. You have researched everything you need. And it only stifles you. Maybe writing isn’t meant for you. Only perfect people can do it all. That is what you believe and what you worry about. But you couldn’t be more wrong.
Endless rules and regulations only help you as a writer if you are a technical writer or teacher. Creative writing of any sort has so many different opinions on what is the best way to write because there is no best way. Writing is a difficult career and you won’t survive it if you don’t choose a story that interests you. Your writing style should be just as important. And if you don’t know what that is yet, try one that sounds good. Then try another. And another.
Practice is what will help you to understand which way is your way. And practice is also the answer as to how you will get better at sentence structure, plot, and character development. You do not have to create a masterpiece the very first time. Learning is helpful, but if you spend ninety percent of your time researching and only ten percent of it writing, you are a researcher, not a writer. It should be the other way around. Write, write, write, and then learn something new. Then put that new piece of advice into practice. Yes, this means that your later work will be better than your first, but that is to be expected. And you can always edit it later after getting better. But if you don’t get something down in the first place, you won’t be able to fix it.
Take the things you learn and practice them one at a time. When you are overwhelmed in general, break up your worries and deal with them individually. Encourage yourself by writing whatever and wherever you want. Start in the most interesting part of your story and continue from there. Only take advice if it feels right to you.
But what about that great golden idea? You don’t want to mess it up, so maybe you should work on something you are less interested in first to practice. Seems like a sound plan, but if you are not writing your best idea, you are not writing your best. Do not worry about ruining your grand stories, because there isn’t an author out there who hasn’t claimed that their second and third great golden ideas were even better than the first. Write what you really want to and trust that you will find another idea even better than the first later. People change, and ideally, with this method, get better.
So write. Practice. Relax. Enjoy yourself. Then write some more. You will get the hang of it. Anyone really can be a writer. All you have to do is write.
Photo by Katya Austin