How Do You Start Writing? By Writing.

Your story idea is great.  The characters live intricate lives inside your mind, and you know them as if they were in your own circle of friends.  Plot lines mix with the daily grind of your life.  You are only one step away from being a rich and famous novelist.  Unfortunately, that step is gargantuan.  Your novel still needs to be written.  The task seems daunting.  Your word processor takes the form of Goliath and you find yourself without a sling or a stone.

Finding a million other things you could be doing with your time, your hand hovers over the left click button on your mouse.  Slowly, you move the cursor over the red box with an x in it, and with depressing resignation, you click.  One more opportunity is lost as you turn to other more important tasks, like reading Digg or playing Mount & Blade.

As you may have guessed, the “you” in this article is actually “me”.  I often interchange the two terms.  Like many aspiring authors, I love the stories in my mind.  I love the idea of telling these stories to millions of adoring fans. But I do not, however, love editing, rewriting, and the other tedious processes that accompany the job.  Writing, like any other craft, takes hard work and discipline to do a competent job.  If your goal is to be outstanding then the work grows exponentially.

Considering the magnitude of the task at hand, how do you get to the point where the wonderful fantasy in your — often sick and twisted — mind is adequately represented in thousands of words on the page?  I must reluctantly admit that I don’t know the answer to that question.  I do however; know that the first and most interesting step is to start writing.   Yes, you heard me.  The first step is to start writing your story.  If you are like me then you are passionate about your story.  Sit down and start typing.

Before you start typing make sure you have the right mind set.   You are not writing for your tenth grade English teacher.  No publisher is going to read your first draft.  The story flowing from your thoughts should be dedicated to your passion.  Completing a first draft story is immensely rewarding and Reading the whole story for the first time is exciting.

I started my novel over a year ago.  With the story mapped out in my mind, I sat down to type and hammered out chapter one in very short order.  You can read it here (Not great writing, I know. But, it is a start).  After completing the first chapter I hit a wall and lost my discipline.  Rather than give up, I decided to write short stories for a while to get my creative juices flowing.  Voice And Shadow, my first effort, is nearly complete.  My second short story, The Goat Eater, is in process.  Writing these stories is teaching me how to write and also gives me ideas on my novel.

Before you leave this page and start writing your first story, there is one more important step.  Find a local writing group of passionate writers.  I started attending the East Valley Writing Workshop and my first meeting was fantastic.  I received both encouragement and critical advice about my story.  Not only that, but I also met other people who had the same passion I have for reading and telling stories.  This meeting gave me a much needed boost of adrenaline.

Of course I would not be writing this now if it were not for my beautiful and supportive wife.  She always believed in me and always encouraged me to write.  She not only tells me how great I am, but she gives excellent advice on my story.  Now it goes without saying, you cannot have my wife, but I hope you have someone in your life that encourages you like she does me.

All right, enough chatter.  It’s time to go out and write.  Start up your trusty word processor whether it be VI, Word, Google Docs, or some bright and shiny Mac app.  Take the story in your head and write it down.  You may find that writing the story is far less daunting than it once looked.

One thought on “How Do You Start Writing? By Writing.

  1. Great advice! I especially like how you fessed up to losing steam on the novel and doing short stories a time. I did the same thing. I found from publishers that my plotting was weak, so I realized I had trouble wrapping my head around the events of a huge novel, so I worked on short stories which are like separate scenes. If a novel is well written, any chapter (short story) can stand alone. I learned a lot doing that.

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