Fellow New Writers Listen Up
Starting creative writing is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’ve tried several times to put my ideas on paper but I’ve always struggled with mental roadblocks. It was supremely difficult to get over these made up reasons and jot something down. I actually started Googling “why can’t I write?” and “why is writing so hard?” just to see if this was a problem other aspiring writers faced, and guess what – I found I wasn’t alone. The unfortunate truth is that writing is hard when you’re a beginner. But here are a few tips I’ve picked up that have helped me get over some of these mental hurdles.
Tip #1 – Stop Comparing Yourself To Your Author-Heroes
In the beginning, the more I tried to write, the more I unconsciously started to compare my work with the authors I loved reading. And of course, since my writing is amateur compared to them, I started to hate how basic my writing was. I’d over-analyze every passage, rewriting way too many times to try and make them sound more mature, and I’d start to question everything in my story. Was my plot interesting enough? Did my characters have enough depth? Am I being too wordy? I even started to become disheartened when I’d read a book I was enjoying and think to myself “wow, my work will never sound this good, why am I even bothering?”.
This negative thought loop snuck up on me. I wasn’t aware I was doing it until after I’d given up writing for the 5th time in the last 2 years. Then, I realized that what was holding me back the most was my inability to let go and enjoy myself. I realized that it doesn’t matter what I write or how well I write it, because I’m writing it for me and that’s all that really matters. I don’t have to create anything that will satisfy any picky readers. I don’t need to write some epic tale of self-sacrifice and adventure in a wordy saga that spans 900 pages and hits the top of the NY Times Bestseller’s list. I’m a beginner and I have all the time in the world to practice and hone my skills. I’ll worry about being published if that time ever comes, but right now, I’m just a casual wordsmith with a keyboard and some ideas. Putting words on paper shouldn’t be about comparing myself to the greats.
Tip #2 – Lose The Pressure, But Have A Schedule
Since writing is supposed to be rewarding (and maybe even fun!), the goal should be to keep yourself motivated without getting stressed out. There are no deadlines, but for me that meant that I ended up putting off my writing in favor of other tasks. I found that I got nothing done and my interest waned if I tried writing only whenever the urge was upon me. I let myself get distracted way too easily. What I needed, and what I found that worked for me, was a schedule.
I’m not saying to create a detailed schedule where you must put in the calendar that you will write 500 words in 1 hours every night. What I mean is, set aside a dedicated time to write, that you can then treat seriously to accomplish your small goals. Maybe you can only find time on Saturday mornings. That’s fine, just schedule yourself to write for those available morning hours and then sit down and do it every week. I currently schedule myself to write three times per week, two weekdays and one weekend day, and I make it a point to dedicate that time solely to writing, not even editing, just getting words down as they come to me. And I wouldn’t recommend worrying about word count until you’re more in the habit of writing consistently – it can just add stress for a beginner. I’d say that’s for level 2 beginners! For now, you’re just really focusing on building a habit.
Tip #3 – Write What Interests You
It seems like this is pretty common knowledge, writing about what interests you, but you’d be surprised at how many beginning writers try to write for others instead of themselves. It’s much easier to write when the topic you’re discussing is something you’re passionate about. Find what makes you happy, what gets your attention, and then let the words flow free!
The best way to get that practice is to write with passion and excitement and not worry about what readers might think of your story. In the beginning, you’re doing it for yourself – YOU are your target audience, so pick a topic that inspires you and just go wild.
Tip #4 – Utilize Writing Prompts and Practice Tools
Tip #5 – Find Inspiration
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