You’ve got a great idea and want to write, but there’s one problem: you don’t know where to start.
Even if you’ve started, or possibly finished your first ventures into writing, you don’t know what to do next. How do you become a writer?
There’s quite a lot of advice out there—some of it good, some bad, and some overwhelming for new writers—so I’ve boiled everything down into the three pieces of advice you need to go from someone with an idea to becoming a writer.
1. Write what you want to write
When you first start, some people will suggest you go and develop your craft before attempting the thing you want to write. If you have an idea for a novel, you might find people will tell you to start writing short stories first. Now, short stories are a great way to practice the art of storytelling and developing your skills as a writer, but that comes later. I didn’t start with short stories, and neither did most of the writers I know who are working on or have written novels. For me, it was a good eight or so years into my writing career before I even started writing short stories, as they weren’t what I wanted to write. Write what you want to write. If you’ve got this burning idea for a novel in your head, write that. If you want to write poetry, write that. Just tell the story that you want to tell in whatever medium that you want to write it in. There, you’ve started writing.
2. Write something else
First of all, don’t get distracted until you’ve finished what you wanted to write. Once you’ve written it, the temptation will be to keep going back over it to make it perfect. The problem is, you’re not there yet. You need to develop your craft, so write something else. Realistically, you’re not going to be able to make that first draft any better until you develop the skills—skills which you need to learn and grow, which takes time and practice. Leave that project alone and work on your skills by writing something else. Once you have done, go back to the original piece and see if you can spot some of the mistakes you’ve made. If you can, great! Edit, redraft, and then go and write something else. If you can’t spot any mistakes—they’re there, you just can’t see them yet—repeat this process until you can. Then fix them, write something else, and go back to it again.
3. Keep writing
Write some more things. Experiment. If you’ve been writing novels, try writing short stories or poetry to better understand and develop the skills that they bring to the table. If you usually write poetry or short stories, try writing something longer, or perhaps attempt non-fiction. Write something outside of your comfort zone, such as different genres, different protagonists or antagonists, different characters. Practice; expand your horizons and get better at your craft.
Ultimately, the only way to get started in writing, or to get better at writing, or to become successful in writing, or to become a writer, is to write. So, write.
© 2019 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.