Tips for Starting a New Writing Project

Advice on beginning a new project and the initial challenges some writers face.

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I hear so many people tell me they want to write a book one day. It’s almost getting on my nerves how many times I hear it. Either they don’t have the time or they aren’t emotionally or mentally in the right place to write. Here’s the secret to writing a book: you just have to sit down and write it. Then you rewrite it, then you edit it and just keep going until it’s something you’re vaguely happy with.

Be open to change

Without going into the specifics, I kind of had a plot mapped out for the next book I wanted to write; I had gathered information, made some vague outlines. Then I watched a TV show and the plot was too similar to what I had planned and so I decided to scrap it.

If you find yourself in a similar situation don’t get disheartened. Every story has been told before; you can either tell it from a different perspective or find a new angle. No one can write your story but you.

Don’t be afraid of research

Watch, read, consume ideas, read the news; it’s not time wasting, it’s research and it’s important. Just know when to draw the line and when you are just stalling yourself.

I had a week to mull over my story and managed, on-the-fly, to come up with something else. I spent that week watching documentaries, reading books and blogs, asking questions on forums, reading articles and news reports, watching dramas, anything and everything to try and trigger some kind of story in my mind from the initial concept idea.

Adapt

Your original idea may evolve and change – adapt to it and don’t see it as some kind of failure. Sometimes it’s the challenges and overcoming them that make writing fun!

I had already kind of figured out a main character for the story I originally wanted to write. I managed to mostly transfer him over because all I had was a plan and a character bio. I had to tweak it slightly but it felt easier than starting completely from scratch – even though essentially it’s a completely different character.

Outline, even if only a little

I really wanted a complete outline before I started, but, as with everything I do, I got so into the characters and the story that I wanted to tell that I was far too excited to just sit on it and wait for the rest of the plot to come to me. I had a 30% idea and that was enough for me. I think I probably end up planning stories in 4 or 5 stages.

Just start writing

I’d written 15,000 words. That meant I had roughly 85,000 to go, give or take. All of that excitement I was talking about before? It was replaced with a crushing and daunting feeling mixed with the excitement of finding my characters and discovering what was going to happen to them.

Personally, I try and work on one project at a time, because I think it’s good to be fully immersed in your story.

Do it now!

The truth is, there is no good time to start writing; you just have to get on with it. It’s all a learning process. I am still learning now.

Katerina is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling crime thriller ‘The Teacher’ and number 1 Kindle bestselling novel ‘The Secret’.

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