Today, my lovelies, I shall address the ever important question of how to begin writing. Senior writers, move on if you wish, this isn’t for you. The aim of this post is more to help writers get started than to tell them the basic rules (if there are any).
Beginning to write isn’t so much learning to write as overcoming obstacles in your self-esteem. If you are literate, you can write, and probably have written your entire life. Grammar – and I cannot stress this enough – is vital. It doesn’t have to be text-book perfect, but it’s better to know the proper grammar and choose to ignore aspects of it than to simply get it wrong.
I, of course, would recommend the process I learned to write by to anyone, with minor adjustments. The best way to learn is to teach yourself by experience, because there are a lot of writers out there trying to give advice (like me) and that advice may not apply to you. Learn to respect your own skill and talent, and only then will advice be of any real use at all.
The only real advice I can give, and I believe it’s good, is to write, write, and keep on writing. I recommend starting in a notebook – there’s something so much less intimidating about paper than a computer. You can see the end of the notebook, if not the end of the story, or at the very least you can see an end to writing in it. After awhile, hands start to cramp.
Journaling, I believe, is a good way to start. But no editing, none at all, for awhile. Don’t intend to ever edit what you write. If you write a story, don’t grab hold of it with your soul, saying, “It will be my masterpiece!” Not at first. If, after you’ve written quite a bit, unedited, than you can revise. But I don’t mean five pages.
I say this because, even though editing can be a lot of fun (I know that sounds sarcastic, but really, it can be), and it’s hard to let ourselves write badly, it’s absolutely necessary not to get bogged down in the beginning. Learn to love scribbles, journal entries, half-beginnings to stories, and you’re on your way. I did this in two ways, way back in seventh grade. First, I wrote a story in a notebook (which ended up being around 90,000 words) and then I went onto fanfiction sites and wrote there.
*waits patiently for scoffing to die down*
Fanfiction was the best thing that ever happened to me.
*waits impatiently for scoffing to die down*
Here’s why: I wrote thousands upon thousands of unedited words about stories that weren’t mine. I didn’t worry about characterization, I didn’t stress over dialogue, I just wrote. And, when I entered high school, I was a 14 year old who had written, in two years, over 300,000 words of fiction. Miniscule amounts of it edited. And, best part? I was in way too deep to stop.
Had I edited as I went, I don’t think I ever would’ve become a writer. It’s too depressing to read back over what you wrote and try to fix it. If it’s just re-reading, it can be done with enjoyment and amusement, laughing over mistakes, feeling pleasure over the little gems that bury themselves in the story, and all the while looking at it as if it was someone else’s. Once writing becomes about the author, and not the story, all is lost. I also think that when writer’s skip this, and go straight to editing, they grow to hate the editing process. I love it.
That, basically, is my advice. Write, write, write. After you’ve gone through the process of writing massive amounts without editing, than I would recommend actually starting your first story. You can, of course, use something you’ve been writing, but it’s probably best if, instead editing it, you rewrite it without looking at the original. Sounds hard, I know, but it’s easier than you’d think. Once you get heavily into the story (no backing out now) and are editing and writing to your heart’s content, only then would I suggest reading how-to-write books. Also, always read those with a grain of salt. Several grains. Maybe a cupful. By this point, you’re writing for the sake of writing, and by golly, no one, not even published authors, are going to ruin it for you.