The most important thing to remember is this: Writing is hard. It takes a lot of time and effort, and it’s easy to get discouraged. Keep at it, though, and you’ll find that the results are worth it.
Treat your writing with respect. Formatting matters; don’t use text-speak or your work will be harder to read, both for you and for others. Keeping a blog of your writing can be an excellent way to motivate yourself, because it creates an outlet for your thoughts and encourages you to see your writing as something real rather than something imaginary.
If you start typing at the bottom of a blank page and just keep going, chances are pretty good that you won’t finish anything. You need to have some kind of plan before you start writing. Whether you’re writing a short story or a book, there’s no harm in planning out the basics first: character lists, plot outlines, etc.
And if all else fails, remember that everyone struggles with writer’s block from time to time (even professional writers). It’s nothing personal; there are no rules saying that only good writers can have these difficulties.- – – – – – –
I love to write, and often find myself with a story in my head that I can’t wait to get out. The problem is that I usually try to do it all at once. This leads to lots of frustration and never getting anything finished. I’ve started breaking down my stories into manageable sections, and it’s made me feel like a real writer.
Telling a story is kind of like building a house, except instead of lumber, nails, and windows you’re using words. You need a solid foundation, which for writers means an outline. This gives you the basic structure for the story, and acts as your guide when writing. Then you need some walls, so you can fill in the details as you go along. Finally you’ll want some detail work to add texture and make everything look nice.
You may not have noticed this yet, but when you’re writing something there are always going to be parts that are more interesting than others. Some sections will be exciting or funny; others will be dull or confusing. When it comes time to edit your story, make sure the parts that are boring (or confusing) are at least necessary for the story line. If they’re not, take them out or rewrite them so they fit better with the rest of
I’ve been writing for a long time now. And I’m still learning new things about my own process, things that change how I work and how I look at the work of other writers. It’s an exciting feeling, and I hope to share some of what I’ve learned with you here.
The entire process is intended to help you get over yourself and start writing. It is divided into a series of steps that can be taken as quickly or slowly as you like, even all at once if you’re up for it. The important thing is to consciously think about each step and move on when you’re ready.
You may have heard writers say, “I’m blocked,” as if a block were something that could be laid across the entrance to a highway, impeding the cars of writers but allowing the cars of others to speed past.
Telling us that you’re blocked is like telling us you’re shy, or feeling depressed, or having writer’s block: it tells us that you are feeling something bad. It does not tell us that you are writing less than you would like, or even that you are failing to write anything at all.
Telling us that you’re blocked is like telling a person who is anxious about public speaking that they have stage fright; they understand what they are experiencing but they don’t know how to make it go away. Outsiders might be able to offer some suggestions: practicing in front of a mirror, drinking alcohol, reciting poetry in public—anything that might help them feel more comfortable with themselves on stage. But they won’t be able to get rid of their anxiety entirely while they are still on stage.
When you tell people you’re blocked, they may try to help you by giving advice like “just start writing without thinking about it” or “write with your left hand instead of your right.” These might help if your problem
In my last post I talked about how important it is to take notes, and how easy it is to forget things if you don’t. I have a few more ideas on the topic of note-taking that are worth mentioning:
1) If you’re like me, you often find yourself writing down your notes in a notebook or on scraps of paper. I’ve found that it’s much easier to keep track of them when they’re all in one place, so I started keeping a digital file as well. This way, when I’m studying for an exam, or for the bar, or for the final round of edits on my next book, I can search through all my notes with ease.
2) Sometimes you need to take notes that aren’t things that have been said to you; rather they are thoughts that are going through your head. That’s fine; just put a dash before each thought and leave a space between each one. In those spaces add a word or phrase summarizing the main idea of each thought. It will look something like this:
– … (start of new thought)…
-This isn’t going anywhere.
-Or maybe it already has and it’s just not going anywhere interesting yet?
Artists, writers and musicians all share the same problem: They all have to start from scratch. The artist has to wonder if she can even draw that horse, then has to learn how to draw the horse, then has to practice, practice, practice until she can draw the horse well enough that people will say “Wow” when they see it. The writer has to wonder if he can write that novel, then learn how to write it, then practice writing it until he has a reasonable chance of finishing it.
The musician has to learn an instrument, then learn how to play in time with other musicians, and then learn how to make up and improvise new melodies and solos in time with other musicians. All of them have the same problem: they have to start from zero. They have no experience. They don’t know what they are doing.
But we don’t think of artists as beginners. We don’t think of Mozart as a beginner, even though he had the same problem with music that I do with drawing horses. He didn’t know how music worked until he started doing it; he didn’t know what made good music or how you create it until he started making music.
So why do we think of artists as experts? Why