Despite having four short stories published, I still consider myself a new and beginning writer. And I probably will until I have a novel or two under my belt. But I have learned a lot over the last few years. So here are some tips for you if you are wanting to get started on your dream but don’t know where to start.
1. Do just that: start!
No one has to see what you write unless you want them to – so get writing. And do that in any way that works for you. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Some people prefer to use pen and paper for their first drafts. Many work straight onto a computer of some kind. I have also known people to write extensively on their phone – although I certainly wouldn’t recommend it. I always work on either my laptop or PC, unless I don’t have access to them. Which brings me to Tip 2.
2. Always have some method of writing things down on you
If you carry a handbag, this is relatively easy. I always have a notebook in mine. A spiral-bound book gives you somewhere handy to stash your pen or pencil. But, if necessary, using your phone is perfect here. While I wouldn’t write a whole novel or story on my phone, I have used it many times when an idea has popped into my head when all I had was my phone (for example, waiting for a Pump class to start at the gym).
3. Discover where you like to write
Are you the type of writer who needs to have a specific space in your home to write, or can you write anywhere? You will probably discover that the truth lies somewhere between those two. A specific space that is yours, that you can have set up the way you want it is ideal. I am lucky enough to have my own office (4 bedroom home empty nesters = we both have our own offices as well as a spare room). But most people don’t have that luxury. And, even if you do, you may not always want to use it. For example, I’m currently in our loungeroom on our recliner, sitting on a heat pack (hamstring injury). And to be honest, I often write here anyway. I have also written on trains, in coffee shops – and even in a club waiting for my husband’s concert to start (I must say, I did feel very authory writing there with a chardonnay in hand). If it works for you, go for it.
4. Find your tribe
I know when I started writing seriously, I had so many random questions. Random enough that I wasn’t sure how to ‘google’ them. I knew I needed to ask people who were dealing with/or had dealt with, the same things.
It is really important that you find a person or group to support you in your writing journey. You will have questions. You will want someone to read your work and give you feedback. You will want to be a le to express your frustrations and joys in your writing. Whether that is one person or a group of people is really dependent on what you are comfortable with.
And it doesn’t need to be a group where you physically turn up for meetings. That suits many people. I wish I was one of them. But I’m not. So I started looking online, particularly Facebook. I joined some groups. After a while, I also left a few. But the one I found that really supported me a writer was Authors’ Tale. This group is supportive, accepting, answers questions, and provides many different prompts and questions to help develop your writing skills. And there is always someone who will read your work and give feedback if you ask. I honestly think I may have given up if not for the members of Authors’ Tale. I believe in them so much that I became one of the administrators!
And of course, there is no reason why you can’t join more than one group. Just find what suits you.
5. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
Do you have an idea for a novel? National Novel Writing Month is a wonderful way to challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in the month of November every year. You’ll get writing tips, you can join with others for support and encouragement – and if you don’t get 50,000 words written, it doesn’t matter. But you might just surprise yourself. If not for NaNoWriMo, my first novel would probably still be a dream, rather than over 93,000 words of first draft. I highly recommend you give it a try!
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Kerry A Waight - Author
A writer of historical fiction and paranormal stories.