I have wanted to write for almost 40 years, but I only started to actually do it last year.
When looking at it like that – 40 years vs 1 – it feels like such a waste of time, doesn’t it? But it isn’t, really.
Sure, I could say that had I started writing decades ago, I would have most probably achieved a lot more by now. The thing that I realized, though, is that I can still achieve everything I want and even more. Besides, I believe that everything happens for a reason. That means that I had to go through everything I went through, I had to gain that experience, I had to develop a certain mindset, in other words, I had to become who I am today. And having done all that, I am now ready for this new exciting journey. So, no regrets.
I’ve learned a lot over this year. So I would like to share some tips with those who are starting to pursue their life-long dream of becoming a writer.
Here are some things – that might seem simple at first glance, but are essential if you dig deeper – that will help you write.
- Just do it.
If you want to be a writer – write. Take a pen, pencil, piece of chalk, phone, computer, typewriter, your kid’s iPad – anything to write down those thoughts and ideas of yours. At least one, just find one thought and expand on it. And when you feel like you have no ideas, when your mind goes blank as soon as you try to write something down – don’t trust that feeling. Those thoughts and ideas are like scared little kittens, not used to the human touch – they want it, they need it, but they don’t know yet what to expect, so they hide behind the nearest tree, secretly hoping to be found, picked up and taken to a better and safer place.
Write down anything that comes to your mind. And I mean literally anything. The trick here is to get used to writing things down, to capturing your thoughts before they slip away.
- Step by step.
If you’re ready to start writing your first book, to write a short story or an article – go for it! If not, stick to just pinning down those thoughts and ideas for now. That’s also perfectly ok. Don’t rush. Develop the habit and the discipline first. Get the feel of it. But don’t stay in that phase for too long, or you’re risking never moving on to the next one.
If you lack patience, like me, it’s going to be extremely hard at times, because you will want to fast forward the process to a point when you already have the result, when it’s visible and tangible. You’ll want to see your work complete, published, and already a best-seller, with the audience applauding you and asking for more. I know very well how that feels. And that’s when you’ll have to take a deep breath and remind yourself to do it step by step, and to actually enjoy the journey you’re on. Every minute of it. Every word of it.
You will see the result, if you are disciplined and persistent. But it doesn’t mean your journey will be over. It never really ends, and that’s the beauty of it.
- Consistency is queen.
Consistency is the main ingredient of success. There will be many days when you won’t feel like writing. When you will find hundreds of excuses to not do it. When you will be lazy, tired, overwhelmed or not feeling well. But you can’t let that stop you.
Create a schedule and set writing goals. Achievable and realistic writing goals, to be precise. Set a minimum number of words that you can write daily, and stick to it. Be honest with yourself, and don’t set it too low or too high.
Too low can be a temptation to skip a day or two, since you’ll think you can easily catch up the next day.
Too high will scare you and you’ll feel like there’s no point in even starting.
Instead of counting words, you can count the amount of time you spend writing daily – say, minimum of 30 minutes every day.
Choose whatever is more convenient, whatever works for you personally – as long as you are consistently writing.
Being your own boss is a blessing, but at the same time a huge responsibility. You won’t get the monthly paycheck from yourself (although… that might be an interesting idea), but you definitely need to keep your work under control, in order to achieve the desired result.
- Educate yourself.
There is so much information available these days on practically anything, it’s just incredible, if you think about it. We live in a time when information is abundant, and therefore, unfortunately, undervalued.
Most people know that when they need answers, they’ll go and find them on the internet. But the trick is to actually ask the questions. Show some curiosity, learn, look for any knowledge in the sphere you’re about to dive into, master the craft.
There is a great number of books, articles, and blogs on writing. Go through them and find the ones that feel right to you.
On Youtube, find videos where writers are sharing their advice.
On Facebook, join writers groups.
On Instagram, follow authors and hashtags related to writing.
Not only will it bring you knowledge, but you will also feel like a part of this community, and that’s a great motivation in itself.
- Motivation sources.
I like sharing quotes on writing in my Instagram stories and adding them to a “Writing quotes” folder in highlights, so that I can go back and look at them whenever I need to. It’s fun and inspirational at the same time.
Searching on different websites, looking for quotes from famous authors, reading them, analyzing them and finding thoughts and ideas I can relate to, advice I can follow and apply in my writing, is helping a great lot. It also works as a constant reminder of why I am doing it in the first place, and hopefully will also help someone else in search for motivation.
Following fellow writers on social media is another great source of motivation. Sometimes their insights can be very helpful, besides, you will see that you are most likely going through the same struggles. Having support is very important, especially at the stage when you are just beginning.
Just remember, every world-famous writer was once a beginner. They all started with a blank page and a desire to share a story. Most of them came to writing after years of working in a totally different sphere. They’ve gone through hardships, they’ve had their moments of fears and doubts, they’ve faced multiple rejections and they’ve wanted to quit many times. But they kept going. If they succeeded, why can’t you?
- Exterminating excuses.
We are all masters of making excuses, both those that we voice and those that we keep to ourselves. And when the hard times come, when our strength and determination are being tested, then all those doubts, fears and excuses are ready to come out marching like an army. And that’s the time for battle. That’s the time when it’s either you or them. That’s when you need to kill them.
Your fears will be telling you that you won’t succeed, so you shouldn’t even bother trying. And when you try to argue that there is a chance (‘a very slight chance’, your doubts will butt in), the excuses will take the lead. You will be told that it’s ok to skip a day or two, that you’re too tired, that you don’t have time right now, or that you’re not in the right mood.
Eliminate them. A day will easily turn into a week and then into a month. Lack of time is handled through efficient time-management and setting priorities. The wrong mood is such a lame excuse that killing it would be actually doing it a favor.
I write on my phone, typing with one hand, while breastfeeding my baby. Or late at night, when everyone is asleep. On my phone, again. God bless whoever invented Google Docs.
I constantly have battles with my excuses. So much so, that my excuses outnumber me a million to one. I’m winning so far, but the battle never ends.
The biggest excuse I have personally eliminated has been “I can’t write in English because it’s my second language.” And that’s the victory I’m most proud of.
Whatever your excuses are – I believe you can be stronger.
- Believe in your writing.
Regardless of how many people will be supporting you on your way, the most important person in this journey that you should be able to rely on is you. Whether you have friends and family cheering, or no one at all, you have to believe in yourself first of all. Believe in your writing.
And it’s not the arrogant “I know I’m perfect and I don’t need advice” I’m talking about. Nobody is perfect. But as flawed as it might be, your writing is you. It’s your heart and soul on paper (or on the screen). It’s important. It deserves to be told. It needs to be told. And it needs to be read. Therefore, when you start, you have already succeeded.
I’m at the beginning of this fascinating journey myself. There are ups and downs, unexpected turns, ditches, new doors to be opened, new paths that need to be followed and that might look like a dead end sometimes. I trip and fall, and then I get up and keep walking. And I just can’t wait to see what’s waiting for me around the next corner.