I frequently get asked about writing. I'm asked how and where to start quite often. My advice and response is usually this: "Start with the first word."
I know how that sounds, but it's the honest truth. If you want to become a writer, the best place to start is the first word. Just start writing. There's no tried and true method to it. If there was, there would be more successful writers out there. Everyone has their own unique way, so the best thing to do is just try to hone your method. Experimentation is key to developing great writing habits.
Let's say you have an idea for a story. This is your story, so no one else is going to be able to tell you how it should be told or what will happen. That's totally up to you. So, where do you start? With the first word. Just putting your idea down on paper starts the process. Yes, it's that simple. I'm going to list some ideas, tips, and strategies to help you turn your idea into story.
1- Outlines: Some writers use outlines. Outlines are a general breakdown of your story. Think of it like a timeline of events that carry the reader from one point to another. They can be simple or complex and detailed. Outlines don't have to be followed, as they are only a skeletal frame for your story. It's up to you to flesh it out. Outlines break down the overall story into highlights, giving you an idea of how the story will flow.
2- Notes: This is my personal and preferred method. I'll write a general synopsis of my story (what I want it to be about) and just add a few highlights here and there. Personally, I like to have goals set for my characters to reach or events that I want to happen, and then I try to let the story lead me to these events\goals naturally as I write. This seems to work for me over the outline, however, I take detailed notes on my story and characters so when I sit down to write, it comes out easier. That is my preference, so whichever route you take, the best advice I can give is to simply experiment and go with what feels best.
3- Drafts: A manuscript (or novel) will have several drafts. Again, there's no set amount or formula here. To me, the most important thing with this is that you finish. Tell your story from beginning to end. Once you finish, there's your first draft. I cannot state enough how important it is to just finish. Finishing is half of the work. Sure, I've abandoned stories or manuscripts in the past, but the important thing here is that a book is not finished until the cover is attached. I cannot tell you how many times I tell aspiring writers that simple statement. Write your story and finish your first draft. You can always go back and edit it as you see fit.
Those are just three small things you can focus on getting started and staying focused on the main objective. Seeing as your main objective is telling a story and writing a novel, those starting points should help you cross that finish line.
There's so much advice I can give someone who wants to write, but ultimately, they have to have the passion, the drive, to want to do it. I can give all the advice I have in me, but it will be up to you, the aspiring writer, to carry yourself over the finish line.
With that said, here's a few quotes I like to use to help inspire others who want to write.
* A book is not finished until the cover is attached.
* Write. Don't find excuses not to do so. Just write.
* Your book starts with the first word.
* Don't be discouraged. Writing a book is hard. Not writing a book is harder.
There are many ways to begin a novel, but for those who are just getting started, the best advice I can give is simply this: Do it. Just write. Keep writing, keep moving forward, and don't stop. Your book is only complete and finished when you say it is. If you don't like a section, keep moving forward. You can always go back and edit.
You read this and say "What about writer's block?"
I've never had "Writer's Block". Not once. Ever. I've had days where I feel as if my mind isn't focused 100% on the story. Be it distractions, stress, or whatever- I've had days where I simply feel as if I cannot write or get a word out. The best solution for this is to just write. If you have a daily goal of writing, just meet that goal. Come back the next day and read what you wrote. If you don't like it, scrap it. The point is to keep forward momentum. I don't believe in "Writer's Block". I believe in myself and my work, therefore, if I'm having a bad day, I just push through and keep working. I've deleted pages and pages of work from bad days only to come back the next day and feel a new inspiration. There will be good days and bad days, excellent days and horrible days, but just remember that your passion and love for writing (and your story) will see you through everything.
Stephen J. Semones
This has been part one in a series of writing tips for aspiring writers. If you found this helpful, please take a moment and share. This article is not to be copied, edited, or reproduced without written consent from its author. Copyright (c) 2017 Stephen J. Semones