I’ve been writing half baked ideas down since childhood, but five years ago I took up the National Novel Writing torch and wrote my first 50,000 words with a beginning, middle, and end, in June 2011. I began on June 2nd, and today, June 5th 2016, I can safely say that it’s been time well spent. To those with words in their heads and hope in their hearts…
1. Start now. Even if you don’t have a clue what you’re doing. Even if the story you want to write sounds too similar to this other thing you love. Even if you think that you’ll never be as good as the authors whose works line your shelves. Every single writer began the same way. They happened upon an idea, and the need to see it through.
2. You won’t get it right the first time. Every idea has stages, and the first few (at least) are going to be ugly, especially when you’re first starting out. Whether you’ve had formal writing classes or not, finding your own writing style/voice can be challenging and the only way to improve is to keep practicing.
3. Be honest with yourself. When you pick up a new book, you can tell if it’s good or bad right? Those bullshit detecting skills will serve you well, as long as you listen to them. It can be hard to tear apart your own work, but remember that it will be better on the other side. Throw those ideas on the page and then decide if this was the story you wanted to tell. Maybe it is, but don’t be discouraged if you get to the end of a draft and discover that there’s something better to be had from that idea. There’s a learning curve to art and surprises contain magic.
4. Read everything and uncover what inspires you. Autobiographies, history, mysteries… explore anything that draws your attention and inspires those what if ideas. Your enthusiasm and curiosity translates into your words. And of course, a good story can be a perfect cure for those mid-revision blues.
5. Some people won’t believe in you… and that’s okay. Some of the most surprising responses I’ve received to my goal of becoming a published author have been overwhelmingly positive, but there will always be those people who insist on dragging you down. Don’t let them. The people who are so eager to destroy another person’s hopes are those who’ve already given up on themselves. They are jealous, merciless, and not worth your time. Do your own thing and be proud of your accomplishments.
Are you ready to make those ideas come to life?