How to Start Writing – 10 Essential Strategies for Every Writer
You’ve decided to try to start writing something (a book, a diary, a story, a poem, or anything), and now you are searching for ways to start the process. And here are 10 essential strategies that will be helpful to every writer, no matter if you are a total newbie or an experienced warrior of a feather and paper.
So, go get yourself some snacks and a big cup of tea, because this is going to be a long detailed post from an experienced essay writer about how to start writing a novel, a poem, a diary, or anything.
You got it? Ok. Make yourself comfortable, and let’s get started.
“You don’t have a talent,” “You write senseless texts,” “You are not a Writer,” “You waste your time,” “Nobody is going to like your weird stories”… Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? No matter if you’ve heard that from people around, or your inner voice that likes to chastize you, but these can be phrases preventing you from starting your magnum opus.
Forget them, forgive them and accept a single fact.
Talent won’t help you if you don’t use it. Even if you don’t have talent, all you need is practice. You only need to start writing.
Here’s the first strategy you should take into account: talent does not really matter. What matters is your will and practice. If you are not talented, then practice will give you that talent. If you are talented, then practice will develop and hone your skills.
To write something, you need an idea.
Idea #1: What Do You Want to Start Writing?
Yes, we’ve come back to “a novel, a poem, a diary or anything” again. What is it? What is your “anything”?
It is important because you can’t start writing about a thing you know nothing about. Is it a fictional story, your autobiography, a real event you want to describe so other people could feel it? This is your first idea.
Idea #2: Why Do You Want to Start Writing?
When you decided what to start writing, it is time to think of why exactly you want to write about it. Do you write for yourself, just to try your skills? Do you need to throw emotions out of your head? Do you want to show another world to your readers?
Many beginning writers think that it is not important to answer these questions. But in fact, everything depends on the goal you set for yourself and your texts. Every goal requires certain approaches towards writing.
Look, writing a diary to let your emotions go is much different compared to creating a fantasy novel to become a great and glorious master of words.
In the first case, you can get away with writing haphazardly and whatever you want, since nobody else is going to read that.
But in the case of a fantasy novel, you’ve got readers. You need to determine who they are, what they want and how you can give them the desired experience. You feel the difference, right?
Idea #3: The Idea of Your Book
It works in both private writing (diaries, personal stories, poems, etc.) and in ones created for publishing (short stories, novels, guidebooks, documentary research, professional experience texts, and so on). In the latter texts, the idea is much more critical.
Let’s come back to the example of a fantastic novel. If you want to create a good book that would become popular, your writing can’t be senseless. The idea of your fictional story is the basis from which to work around.
A good writer is a passionate reader. You can’t start writing a good text without knowing how good texts are composed. There are several reasons why.
- Vocabulary.When you read many different texts, you increase your vocabulary. Later, all the words and phrases you’ve discovered are left to be used in your writing.
- Experience. Conscious and thoughtful reading shows you suitable compositions for different types of texts like dialogues, descriptions, action scenes and understandable explanations. If you read attentively, you gain writing experience even without starting to write something on your own.
- Style. Reading develops your personal taste. As a reader, you can decide which writing is good or bad in your opinion. Then, use the gained knowledge to evaluate your texts from the reader’s viewpoint.
Some additional tip: don’t be too lazy to read both texts you like and don’t like. Decide what made you dislike the texts and then avoid those bad mistakes, unsuitable words, illogical plot twists or wrong composition elements in your book even before you start writing.
#4: Daily Writing Tips for a Job. A Professional Writer’s Craft
No matter what you write, it will require you to put certain efforts into writing regularly. Diaries and short personal stories require your regular attention and then become effective instruments of self-analysis and thinking. Serious things you plan to publish (that fantastic novel example again) are going to take even more of your time.
To start writing a novel effectively, you need to perceive your writing time as your job. You make yourself become a professional writer.
Another way to try writing is to go in for freelance vacancies for writers. They are a good litmus test to show if you are disciplined enough to sit still and work on the text during at least several hours daily and to see if you really like writing.
For instance, you can try to start working as:
- A copywriter.
- A text editor.
- A rewriter.
- A translator (if you know any foreign language).
- A screenwriter.
- A journalist.
- A blogger.
Look at the list and to try thinking about things these professions and activities have in common with writing. You’ll notice that they all require knowledge of different writing tools, patience, and discipline to use them in daily writing in addition to general practical skills.
#5: Plan It
How to start writing a novel? You know the deal.
If you’ve understood that you like writing, it is time to develop a planning strategy.
To simplify it all as much as possible, there are three generalized strategies to plan your text.
Let’s review them using the example of a fantasy novel again.
Planning Strategy #1: Pre-Planning
In this case, you plan the plot of your novel first of all, even before you start writing it. You need to come up with all main and secondary heroes, all conflicts, all the plot turns and scenes beforehand. It may seem to be a good planning strategy to start, though it has some major drawbacks.
Pre-planning gives you the image of the whole story, the skeleton you need to fill with muscles and other content to make it complete and full. In some ways, it makes you free of creative crisis moments and helps you gradually approach your goal by making one pre-planned step after another.
No breaks, no empty pages, no blind spots of a story.Everything is already written.You only need to expand the plan to make it look like a novel.
Some authors I know say it is dull. Actually, this is the most obvious drawback of our pre-planning strategy. If you write while sticking to the plan tightly, it may seem that you don’t use all your creative potential. Yes, there are people who feel limited with precise plans.
They feel it’s difficult to improvise and to make a step away from the previously decided path. If you agree with them, try another planning strategy to start writing.
Planning Strategy #2: Ongoing Planning
You’ve heard that right. The “ongoing planning” strategy is the flexible one. There are many ways to build it and to use its advantages.
For instance, you can plan the starting and ending points of your story in advance, and then try connecting them with a story which literally writes itself. This means you don’t plan everything to the last letter and leave a lot of space to maneuver for your imagination and ideas appearing in the progress.
Another way is to plan the beginning and the ending and then to add some critical milestones between them. This is how you can know where to lead the story in case if you get pulled off course after you start writing.
The lack of planning in this strategy is its hidden disadvantage. The big freedom and flexibility of a plan can make your story look illogical. There is a possibility to lose connections and lead the story towards a plothole. Still, there is the third general planning strategy to try.
Planning Strategy #3: Post-Planning
This planning method is for people who like total creative freedom. It sets no limits on your imagination or creativity. It is about a single idea: first write, then plan.
So, you can write anything you want, describe any scene or introduce any character that appears in your mind. In the case of a fantasy novel, the logic of the method is limited only by the logic of your imagination and the world you create. And then, when everything is written, you put your scenes and chapters in the required order and make them become a complete book.
The disadvantage of the strategy is in its difficulty. Even if you are a very creative person having a lot of original ideas in your mind, it is not easy to transform that potential into text without a significant loss in quality.
Just keep that in mind and try being critical towards your unplanned ideas. By the way, this strategy usually demands a lot of editing. And it is important to be merciless about the texts you’ve written.
Every writer probably knows a lot about inspiration. It is something that makes you write. It has many features in common with the idea of writing. And this similarity is what frequently confuses newbie writers.
“I’ll start writing when there will be more inspiration,” “I have an idea for a book, and I will wait until I have an inspiration,” “I can’t start writing something good without inspiration,” “I’ll wait for my inspiration to appear tomorrow,” “I can’t start writing today…”
You know what? These phrases are just excuses postponing your start.
You can wait for inspiration for centuries, and it won’t appear. If that is you, you will never finish a book ever.
You won’t get inspired until you write at least something. Inspiration appears in progress.
And the final strategic thought: there will not be a suitable moment. If you want to create a book, you need to use a large amount of your free time (see strategy #4).
This applies to other strategies, but it also can be a separate strategy. The writer’s workplace is what supports his or her organization, discipline and creativity. So, it deserves your attention.
First of all, you should feel comfortable with your workplace. A home desktop with a PC, a laptop on the table of your favorite café, or a pen and a notebook with you on the park bench, whatever is comfortable and productive for you.
The main feature of your workplace is that it can get you in the zone and let you know that it’s time to work. Your mind should know: once you are there, it’s time to activate all the writing abilities and start creating texts.
In the case of a home workplace, it should be isolated from distracting sounds, images and unnecessary movement. Of course, it is not always possible to have a separate room for work, so people need to look for other solutions.
The writing room has to be as far from the kitchen as possible. Make sure there is no fridge in sight, and then start organizing a new workplace. Otherwise, you risk to gain additional weight and not to write a masterpiece.
Before you start to work, make sure that all the necessary writing tools are nearby (drafts, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.) and all the apps on your computer are installed and work smoothly. If you need, turn off the Internet connection on your PC and message notifications on your smartphone. Tell family members not to disturb you. If there is no possibility to isolate yourself from side sounds with walls and doors, use headphones and listen to your favorite music.
This option is for people who want to try something different than homes. Moreover, the famous J.K. Rowling started writing the first chapters of “Harry Potter” in a café near her house. We all know what happened to her books a few years later.
To create a café workplace and start writing your book there, you need only to find a quiet place where you feel comfortable. Then, you just bring a notebook with drafts or a laptop with you there, and tell your mind to start working.
Quiet parks, street benches, river banks, roofs, places with beautiful landscape views… it is possible to use them. The beauty of nature or a calm silence of outside places can have a positive effect on your creativity and bring you many new ideas. I would not recommend working outside all the time, but it is just a great change of pace to add some new concepts to your drafts.
#8: Personal Rituals
Personal rituals are often underestimated by beginners who plan to start writing big and serious texts. Meanwhile, every ritual is kind of your personal trigger, making your brain and mind switch from the “default” functioning mode to the “creative” condition. It’s useful and really works as a strategy.
For example, one of our office writers can’t start writing a thing if she doesn’t feel her hands clear. So, she visits a bathroom and washes her hands carefully every time she needs to write a new article. Her mind is used to this and starts generating ideas right after she finishes hand-washing procedures.
Your ritual can be:
- To drink a cup of tea.
- To meditate for 2 minutes.
- To sweep your workplace.
- To do some physical exercises.
- To listen to a certain song.
- Any other personal ritual.
Important note: be careful with your rituals. The best option is to think of one short action before starting your job. But don’t let rituals become procrastination triggers.
This point has a lot of things in common with the strategy mentioned in strategy #4. It is not enough to start writing anything once; you need to do that regularly. You need to make writing be your job, and you need a lot of concentration. A lot of concentration.
Many ways to concentrate your attention and efforts can be found on the Internet (check here, here and here). We won’t discuss each of them in detail, but I will underline the most important facts on concentration that can help you start writing.
- Make it your habit. The ability to concentrate on a single task is a skill you can develop. Turn it into a working habit. It will help you not only in writing, this is a very useful personal ability both in professional tasks and a regular life.
- Multitasking is a myth. You don’t do things effectively and rapidly if you try to complete many tasks simultaneously. You feel it’s difficult and think you make progress while simply spraying your efforts all over and reducing overall performance levels.
- Your brain works like a muscle. The most effective way to teach it something is practice. First, you’ll have to make yourself reject distracting factors and to direct your attention to the process of writing. But your mind can get used to this. Later on, the need to make it concentrate will disappear.
#10: Summary and Daily Writing Tips
Well, this post grew a bit bigger than I expected. The conclusion is simple: this article can only show you how to start writing a novel, a poem, a diary or anything, but the choice is yours. The 10th strategy I’d recommend considering is the most effective: take the previous 9 points into account and create your personal writing strategy. Try out the methods described above, check links and compose your style. A style that will provide you with:
Good luck and don’t quit once you start writing your masterpiece!