Getting started as a writer, and yay 100th post!

*pops party poppers* Yes it’s the 100th post on my blog!  It’s been a great…yeah whatever.

Right now that crap’s over with on to something that matters. I currently have my teeth well and truly stuck into writing my second novel.  The first, Strawberry Kisses, isn’t sold yet, but since resting on your non-existent laurels is a very quick way to become a nothing it’s onwards to even greater new things.  Now like I said in a previous post, one of the hardest parts of writing my first novel was learning all the new skills.  So I thought I would lend some of my experience to my readers and thus hopefully help one or two of you to get started on your own first novels.

First off if you really want to write something long, you need to discipline yourself. By that I don’t mean you should bend over a bed, and whack your own ass with a hairbrush either. Nope, I mean you need to decide to do it, and then actually do it.  Set some time aside to work on your manuscript, and then actually use that time for that purpose.  It’s really that simple, of course the application may well be anything but simple, after all life does tend to try and throw a random spanner when ever it can.

Next decide on what you want to write. This part’s always a nightmare for me. I have literally dozens of notes for story concepts that I want to write.  Which means I tend to dither about what to write next.  Of course once I decide things tend to happen very quickly after that.  My suggestion on this one, if you have more than one story you want to tell, is to write a 200 word summary of each idea. Then walk away and a couple of hours later reread them. The one that speaks the loudest to you, is probably the one you should actually write next.

After that you need to get into the habit of thinking about your project. Sounds weird I know, but nothing has helped me develop more as a writer than this habit. I’ve taught myself to think about a specific project while I do a specific thing. So I think about my long-running science fiction project in the toilet, which being a long-suffering recipient of a lifetimes supply of the runs is a lot of the time.  I think about my blog while I walk or play with the dog. Housework is time for thinking about the novel I’m writing at that time.  Learning this habit’s actually rather easy, just consciously start yourself thinking about it until it becomes an ingrained habit. Easy.

Now when I say thinking about, what I mean is everything from figuring out what a character might look like, to even writing entire pages in your head as you poop, walk or clean.  It really does work and it means that by the time you get to sit and write, you’ll probably already have something ready to put down on paper.

You need to choose a medium to write with that you’re personally comfortable with.  Whether that’s a pen and paper, a word processor or even a typewriter doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you-yourself are comfortable working with that medium.

I think comfort is under rated as being important to writing. I’m personally most comfortable writing on my netbook, while lying in bed.  But I’m most comfortable writing notes, laying out the chapters, and much later, editing the manuscript while sitting at my desk. You need to do what’s best for you.

Comfort also leads to something else that’s essential to be a good writer. You have to enjoy writing. It seems kind of obvious, but time and again I’ve met “writers” who are miserable writing. If you don’t enjoy writing, you shouldn’t write. You discomfort with writing will almost certainly come out in your work. That said though, if you enjoy building a world, working out story outlines, and character development, there’s nothing wrong with finding a writing partner who hates those aspects, but loves to write.

You don’t have to have excruciatingly detailed notes made out to guide you as you write.  But I strongly suggest you do go to the bother of at least making out a few very basic ones.  It can be a true nightmare when you realise that for half of your manuscript one of your characters randomly changed name, or eye colour, or if you’re me even gender.  A notepad filled with even the most basic of notes, will help to keep you on a straight path, and minimise the errors you’ll have to hunt down to fix later.

Finally, if you truly want to be a successful writer, and here successful means you actually manage to finish your manuscript, you need determination. No matter how much you love writing. No matter how all-consuming writing is for you. Someday you’ll hit a roadblock. You could end up with a monster dose of writers block. Worse still you could be 2/3rds of the way through a novel and suddenly burn out completely on that project. It happens. Life too throws obstacles in your path. Someone gets sick, work gets more hectic, the dog pukes on your laptop. These things happen, and when they do that’s when you find out if you’re really a writer to your core.

Because if you are, no matter what happens you’ll ball up your determination, and still make the magic happen. You may take a short break, or free write for a while. You may move on to another project for a few weeks or months. But a real writer, one who is a writer to the core, won’t just stop writing. The nature of who they are simply won’t let them

Well those are my thoughts on this but in parting just let me add that it really does help to think of writing as a form of magic. After all you’re creating a new world in your own mind, and then showing it to other people, all without the benefit of telepathy. If that’s not magic, well then I don’t know what else could be.

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