How to Start Writing And Stick With It

So, you want to write a book. Where to start?

The most important part of the writing process is—don’t be surprised—actually writing. What’s even more important is beginning to write – if you’ve never really done it before.

If you have a story idea in mind, and you’ve always wanted to write a book, but never had the time, the courage, or enough motivation, hopefully, my insights will help you. 

The most important thing is to start. To take that first step. Even if it’s just opening your notebook—or the notes on your phone—and jotting down your ideas.

Every writer has a different process they prefer and are used to. I can only tell you about mine. About what worked for me personally.

When I started writing my book, I had a 6-month-old baby on my hands. He’s now 3,5 years old, and if I’m honest, it leaves me with even less free time to do anything. And I mean, ANYTHING.

Maybe you have all the time in the world. Maybe you only get a few minutes to yourself at the end of a busy day. We’re all different, we have different circumstances and family situations, and that’s totally understandable. 

But if you have the passion and the determination to start writing—believe me, there is always a way.

As you continue your writing journey, you’ll be discovering new things about yourself as a writer. About the writing process that works for you personally. Like, for example, whether you are a plotter or a pantser. You might have come across these terms before. Basically what it means is that plotters like to come up with a rather detailed plan for their story. Some may even have every single chapter plotted out before they begin. Pantsers – well, they just write by the seat of their pants and see where the story takes them.

And then there are plantsers—something in between. I believe I fit into this category, because I start out with a rough outline in mind (which I write down in my notes—and I highly encourage you not to skip this step), I have a basic idea of who my story is about, and what will happen in the beginning, middle, and end.

All the rest starts unfolding as I write. Including side characters, and all the adventures my main characters have to go on.

So here’s your step one. Think of an idea, have a brainstorming session with yourself (or your partner, friend, cat—whoever you find suitable for the role) and write it down. You can tweak it later. Don’t look for perfection. Just get it out there, and maybe even leave it for a day or two, so that you can come back to it later.

But then, at some point, you actually have to start writing. Again, don’t overthink and edit as you go. Let your creativity flow, let the ideas in your mind transform into words and sentences and get them on to that page (or screen—whatever you decide to use).

Here’s what I did. I started writing in my note app on my phone. Don’t recommend it, especially if you’re typing with one hand while holding a baby with the other. One wrong movement, and you end up deleting a chunk of your text with no undo button.

What I found more convenient later on was a Google Docs app on my phone. I still open a new doc for every chapter I write. It works for me, but maybe you’ll find it easier to have just one big document. Again, give it a try, play with it, see what works for you.

Now that you’ve overcome the fear of the blank page (if you had it to begin with) and wrote a sentence, or paragraph, or maybe a whole chapter, there’s a risk that you won’t continue. For whatever reason. You’re feeling insecure, imposter syndrome is attacking, or you don’t like what you wrote, or you just get wrapped up in everyday tasks and can’t find the time.

And then the inspiration and the motivation you had in the beginning start to dwindle. 

This is the most dangerous part. 

Don’t let this happen to you.

What you need at this stage is to create a habit. Consistency is extremely important in writing. To keep yourself motivated, to perfect your skill—you need to keep writing.

One piece of advice: don’t set unrealistic goals. Don’t compare yourself to others. You might see someone sharing that they write 2000-3000 words every day, or even more, you’ll feel like it’s unattainable for you, and you’ll be tempted to give up.

Don’t do that. You do you. It doesn’t matter how many words you write every day or week. What matters is that you write consistently. Work out a schedule that works for you. Can you do 500 words a day? Awesome. Only 100? Still awesome. Can’t write every day? Give yourself days off. Write 5 days a week, or 3 days a week. Things change. Figure out what works for you at this particular moment of your life, and stick with it for now. You just need to get going and form a habit of writing. Maybe it will mean that when you have a few free minutes to go on your phone, you’ll type a couple sentences instead of scrolling social media, checking your email or the weather forecast. Stuck in a traffic jam or waiting for an appointment, or to pick up your kid from school, sporting event, etc? Type or dictate some ideas for the chapter you’re working on. You’ll be amazed at where this can take you when it becomes a solid habit.

At the beginning of my writing journey, I started publishing my chapters on Wattpad. Later on, I changed my mind and decided to just finish the book and self-publish it. But I want to mention that I’m grateful for Wattpad. It gave me exactly what I needed at that point – discipline and accountability. Something I needed to gain the momentum and to create a habit. I set a schedule for myself, and even though I didn’t have hundreds of followers waiting impatiently for my next chapter – I knew, myself, that I had a deadline to meet. A self-imposed deadline. And it worked.

At some point I dipped, though. Life got a bit too crazy—as it tends to—and I missed a month or two of writing. What saved me was finding an accountability partner—a writer friend on Instagram—who was in a similar situation. We decided to encourage each other and let each other know every day how our writing was going.

It made a huge difference. For a couple months, I was writing every single day, and even marking the number of words for each day on the calendar. It was a new habit, a new routine, and it also made me feel proud of myself.

And guess what – that’s exactly how I finished my first draft.

Which leads me to the next important point. Find a supportive community. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other writers. Connect with them. Engage. Learn from them and share your experience, your struggles, your successes. Every author out there had to start somewhere. They’ve all been exactly where you are right now. You can learn a lot from others, and just being a part of a community of like-minded people can take you a long way. I have met amazing people and so many talented authors in the writing community, and I’m so grateful for them. Of course, at first I felt insecure and unsure. Felt like I don’t belong. Like, “All those awesome people out there are authors, and they know so much, and they have books published… Who am I? What do I bring to the table?”

Does it sound familiar? Trust me, I know how that feels. My Instagram account used to be dedicated to jewelry making—which is what I was doing for about a decade. When I started writing, my feed changed completely, because I started following writers and authors. I started searching for writing-related discussions on social media. There are a lot of writing groups on Facebook. There’s an awesome writing community on Twitter—I came to that one later on in my journey, but I’m really glad I did. Whichever platform you prefer, you can “find your tribe.”

If you want to become a writer, you need to be a writer. You need to feel like you’re a writer. And constantly remind yourself of that. Because guess what, if you’re writing, you ARE a writer. It’s that simple.

Start taking your writing seriously. Start taking yourself seriously. I don’t mean give up your day job right now or move to a deserted island with only a notebook and pen. You don’t really have to sacrifice anything if you want to let something new in. Well, you might need to sacrifice your habit of procrastination, if you have one. But what can I say… good riddance, right?

Again, it’s not about how many hours a day you dedicate to it. Not about how quickly you can write a book. It’s about making yourself comfortable in this new role, and giving it importance – maybe even priority. It’s about the process, not the result. The result will come, trust me, if you have the right process and the right mindset in place.

So in a nutshell, here’s what you need to do if you decided to start writing.

You need to come up with an idea, and you need to start. And stick with it. Make it into a habit. Welcome this change into your life, and embrace it. Look for support and motivation from others, but don’t rely on that fully. It’s your story. It’s your journey. You are the one who needs to believe in yourself first of all. There will be battles ahead—with self doubt, insecurities, and imposter syndrome. Prepare yourself for that by becoming strong and empowered through your own self-belief.

It might seem scary at first, but trust me, finding the courage and following your dreams is worth it. Give it a try. Start writing your story.

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