If you’re like me, you probably stumbled onto writing as the result of an entire child hood spent devouring books. Or perhaps it was a school teacher who once encouraged your stories, a supportive parent, or maybe it’s simply your own inherent, deep secret ambition to write.
Whichever it is, I congratulate you! Even if you don’t think so, you’re one of the few beings on the planet lucky enough to know what you truly like. And brave enough to come out looking for help, finding the wind underneath your wings.
You are right at the beginning of your dream. Yet the inspired, misty eyed you, is looming dangerously on the mouth of a pit. If you don’t take care you might tumble in.
For myself, I leaped right in and crash landed on my face, staying put for more than a year. This my friends, is the outwardly hoodwinked territory of the dreaming writer.
Writing is easy. Certainly more so, when you never have to face a blank page. You haven’t been attempting to finish a scene, feverishly writing at midnight, lest your deadline passes, or endured the critique of your hard labored story.
Or like some of us, you haven’t stayed for days in bed writing in your filthy pajamas, truly wanting to eat something but incapable of actually getting up to cook. Unless you’re lucky enough to have your mom around.
I assure you, dear beginner, that lounging about and searching Google for famous writers’ tips, is reliable. Sitting on your bum irresolutely, will nip your dream in the bud. Those two words will always remain the same, no matter what the profession.
You have to work hard. Seat your butt on the chair.
Write and write. Then write again.
I know what you’re thinking because I can see that exasperated look unfurling on your face.
It’s easy enough to say, but how does one start? I’m sorry for not bringing this up sooner. It’s these small changes you need to start making which will give birth to your success.
Down here are the guidelines I used to fire off. They were the engines to my rocket. And they can be for yours, too. Believe in me, it doesn’t matter if you’re eleven or forty five, all you need is drive.
Let’s hit it.
#1 : Books. Don’t read, breathe them in.
Hold on. Don’t pounce on me with your digital pitchforks. I’m not suggesting plagiarism in the least. What I’m implying is, you need to move from the perspective of the reader, to the analyst.
Readers are consumers. They don’t see the narrative’s tricks, the climax, the character sketches, the plot building, the effects. They drown into the story and move with it’s changes, never stirring above the surface.
You can’t afford that. Don’t run away if you don’t recognize any of these terms, because Google is on your side and will help you find more. You may not realise it, but this will strengthen your own work. These are the examples you can refer you when you’re stuck, your inspiration.
It’s amazing. Generally, here is what you should be on the lookout for: –
- Plot building
The beginning. It is quick, unwasteful and entertaining, exploding towards the middle of the story? (Most are) How does the middle give all the plot points, lead perfectly to the end? Does the author provide a satifying climax? Envision how they would have built up the story.
Who are they? How well has the author portrayed them, and how? What do they say and do, how are the finer points of their personality conveyed?
- Special Effects
Almost every good author has these. Their own personal stamp, something which adds a little extra magic to the story. For example, how does Jeffery Archer write so economically? What about the emotional feel of Khaled Hosseini? How did J.K. Rowling develop such good plotting that it makes the books seem magical?
If you’re a bookworm (which is your moral duty if you plan to write), you know what I’m talking about. Go look for it:)
Note: Don’t worry if most of these are bouncing off your head at the moment. I promise it all comes together after you finish reading a book and jot down your observations. Same happened to me!
#2 The Daily Something.
At the risk of stating the obvious, you have to write to be a writer. It’s funny how many people don’t do it.
Starting the immortal novel with 300 pages from the top, everyday, every hour….is daunting. I’m not kidding. One American novelist was so fed up with blank sheets, going over the next page each time, the entire process, that he decided to just write. Within 3 WEEKS. No pause. On one giant roll of toilet paper so he could just type on his typewriter without pause.
You understand my desperation. To emphasize my point, let me share an experience:
One fine morning when I was a 9 year old, I jumped out of bed with a brilliant idea. Within a few days, I began writing and went solid in my diary for 50 pages.
(I admit I’m kind of proud looking at it now, looking over all the words I knew which my classmates are struggling over in 8th grade. Even though ‘ridiculous’ spelled ‘ridonkulous’ and ‘flutter’ was ‘fautter’ when I did it:) Still, it’s a start!
And then I wheedled. And wobbled and crashed. I begun again with renewed hope at 10 years, then eleven, then twelve. The wretched on and off routine got the worst of me. And I was ill equipped, I had no idea of the mistakes I was making in my plotting, characters, god, I didn’t even know what climax was. Giving an exam without studying doesn’t work.
I did love writing a novel. But I’m human, therefore liable to get bored. With this, I can keep looking onto something new. It will keep me writing and inspire me to work on my novel.
What I trying to say is, going for a good three months with a single story, the same characters for company, leaves no room for free expression. You cannot exercise your thinking elsewhere. You can’t spark new ideas. Thus, you don’t improve.
Alright, I know you’re there and can’t wait to kick off the launchpad. You want to start the novel. Go ahead.
But this routine comes under a different category. You must give 30 minutes and 30 minutes only. You can come tired from school or work, reaching home and towards T.V. I don’t care. Nor should you. Find time.
Pen a short story, a poem, an article. Anything you like, but do it seriously and stick to the time limit. It’s like sports. Your muscles will groan and stretch, beg to come back tomorrow, but you know what’s good for you. Slowly they’ll warm up, the juice will start flowing evenly, you will fall into a pattern.
Trust me, you will begin looking forward to it.
#3 Writing Courses – Your official education
Hiya! There you are, I see you scrolling. Skipping uneasily, because this isn’t what you signed up for. Not if there’s money involved, you don’t want to pay to write because writing should be free. Hold your horses, dear reader.
Because I’d like to say that yes, I completely agree. You should never pay to write. You should pay to improve. I assume you’ve heard the phrase,
‘You get what you pay for.’
It’s true. Joining a writing course will not only polish your skills, it will introduce you to a whole new world of writing. A world of possibilities. In short, it quickly gets you onto a level and experience which you would otherwise attain with YEARS wasted in the process. It won’t steal money from you, it will make you capable to earn money writing.
Most aspiring writers usually dream of fiction, but what if you have talents buried inside you, which you never knew you had? Perhaps you have an excellent screenwriter waiting inside you. Or a freelance writer ready to dazzle the world. Writing for magazines and earning money…
But those talents might go with you to your grave, unless you make an attempt to unleash them. That is where a full fledged, comprehensive writing course will help. It will introduce you to all sorts of writing.
Personally, I joined Writers Bureau and recommend it. You get personal attention (online mailing with separate tutors) and they are really helpful people. They had me working on deadlines, assignments, it was just so much fun! Nevertheless, you can browse. If you’re still apprehensive, let me fast forward a couple of years:
You’re frustratingly pacing at your desk. Piles of paper flutter here and there, some failures, some meek attempts for a story, perhaps an article. You’ve managed to unearth some truths about writing, but haven’t gotten published. Not even a magazine, let alone a book.
Listen close. Even if you have talent, it’s no good. You’re similar to the world’s most fertile, soft clay lying by the riverside, without a potter to mold you into a masterpiece vase.
You will discover the tricks about writing much later than mere beginners are doing with their courses. You’ll progress at an infinitely slower rate.
Now, you must understand, it really is up to you. Rates aren’t as high as you may fear, and there are exceptions who have done without it.
But honestly, you’d be much better off. Commit to it and I promise you, if you’re diligent enough, your name should appear in print in no time.
#4 Get yourself in the race. Competitions!
‘To win the race, you have to be in the race.’
With experience, I vouch that this will be one of the most exciting, frustrating, muddled, heart wrenching things you will ever do. Yet it’ll be the most satisfying as well, and will teach you how to write.
Even if you’re a novelist, magazine editor or just a bookworm: Give it a whirl. I bet it’ll be one of the most fun, rewarding thing you’ll do in ages.
Undoubtedly, winning a competition takes plenty of practice, hours spent editing on your draft, and a list of failed competitions to get you through. But in the beginning, you may like to participate for practice, having fun, meeting fellow writers and even forming lifelong friendships if you’re lucky.
Simply put, this gets you in the game. You’ll be committed to improving, brainstorming, working to win. Really, you’d have to be a bit of a brainless cockatoo, if you didn’t think it was fun:)
For advice, I’d say stick with the guidelines, start writing from Day 1 and don’t dump it on the final few days, try to do your best, because you might win.
Admittedly, that would be awesome.
There are plenty of free and reliable contest entries wandering online, you can participate in local or even international competitions. For myself, I’m currently participating in Times of India Write India Contest! It’s nearly an year long contest, a story each month and eleven winners.
After practicing for a while with the above mentioned points, I suggest you go for it. There is always an option for you:
There are age centered contests, particular theme contests, poems, short stories…just about a category for every kind of person. In truth, participating is part bewildering and part fun.
So get in the race!
I’d like to cap it off. These are truly big steps to take but the fact that you’re taking the time to read my article at all, shows that you want to make changes. I wish you the best with your journey!
P.S. – If you liked this article, be a buddy! Share your own thoughts & like. Don’t skip the sharing. Remember your poor friend who’s hysterically tearing papers from her desk.
I’m new and just starting out the blog, so I appreciate the love.