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Things you need to know to start writing.

Bijgewerkt: 16 aug 2020

Earlier this week, I made a rundown of myths that may have stopped you from writing. But if you feel ready to start, what do you do? What do you need, to consider yourself a writer? A while ago, my friend gave me his fiction story for me to read, and it was far from polished. It had no structure, no grammar. Is he a writer? Yes! You may call yourself a writer as soon as you’ve decided that it’s what you want to do. But if you feel overwhelmed with the possibilities, or you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips to get you going. While this is mainly oriented to creative writing, it is applicable to writing in general.

1. Don’t bother thinking about publishing yet.

Whether your skill is up to the standard of publishers, is beside the point. You are just starting, don’t put that weight on your shoulders. You don’t want to chase deadlines, requirements, and fees yet. Instead, focus on the basics of writing, like world-building, character development, genre-specific requirements, and story outlining. I made the mistake to gloss over the technical basics, which made my journey unnecessarily long. Even if you don’t master it yet, understanding the basics will speed up your progress in the long run.

2. Explore your genre or niche.

Take your time figuring out what you like to write. Dabble with a few genres, learn their rules, and see what you like to write. You are never stuck to a genre or niche, but it is important to understand that each of them come with expectations unique to them. You may have only heard of romance, history, horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, but the list is so much longer. Don't make the experience too static. Instead of picking a genre, write your story, and see what label fits. Much like a lot of things in life, the label should fit you, you don’t have to fit the label. After that, you can adapt your work to the rules of the genre.

3. Experience writer’s block, and what you need to deal with it.

It’s inevitable, it’s annoying, and it’s unique to every writer. Some might not write for years, thinking that they’re just lazy. Some people, who write every day, suddenly cannot squeeze out another word for a month. Writer’s block is hard to deal with because the cause is different every time. You need to find out what stops you from writing, and what you need to bypass the block. Even now, there is no exact method to this madness, if you ask writers what they do against writer’s block, the answer will be different every time. For me, if I can’t seem to progress on a project, I start a new one. When I block on the new project, I feel inspired to return to the old one. A common cause of writer's block is focusing too hard on a single project.

4. Find out what inspires you.

To me, inspiration is like an urge. When I’m inspired, I have to grab the nearest resource to write, and I can’t stop until it’s all out of my system. My greatest source of inspiration is music; I listen to a song and the music creates an image, and from that image sprouts a story. Other writers have said that they get inspired by a walk in the woods, away from the world’s noise. Some get inspired by listening to other people’s conversations, which is incidentally a big reason why you see so many writers in cafés. For you, it might be different. Find what turns on that switch in your brain that makes you want to grab a pen and paper and start scribbling, even if what you're writing down makes no sense.

5. The most important one of all: just write.

It doesn’t matter if it’s in your genre, if it even has a genre, if it makes sense or if it’s gibberish. Write whatever comes to mind, you can rewrite it later, once you’ve made sure you jotted all your ideas down. Your first draft is going to be awful, don’t let that stop you.

Just keep writing. With each piece you write, you get a little better.

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