So you’ve decided to write something, huh? Maybe you have an idea for a novel that will blow Harry Potter out of the water; maybe you are of a poetic persuasion and want to dazzle your audience with the depth of your verse, or maybe you’re a scriptwriter looking to write the next big West-end hit. Whatever your reason, no matter how big or small, you have to start somewhere, hopefully this list will give you a little bit of what you need to make a successful start in writing.
Read a lot
This is the first thing on the list for a reason. A writer that doesn’t read is like a chef who only eats oven chips. If you want to be a journalist, read the news; if you want to be a poet, read poetry, and if you want to be a bestselling novelist… well you get the point.
Borrow from the classics
Myths and legends are some of the most successful stories ever, spanning centuries, and affecting the cultural consciousness even today. They are also all public domain, so you can take characters and stories from them and use them as your own. If you’re struggling for a plot, or a character arc, you can’t really go wrong with the classics.
Don’t get too bogged down with originality
You heard me. A big stressor on any writer is the idea of originality – the question of “how do I create something entirely my own?” First of all, originality is fantastic, the problem with asking this question repeatedly, is that often leads to no actual writing getting done. Do you want to use symbology like in the Da Vinci Code? That’s cool, how are you going to approach it in a way that’s different from Dan Brown? Focus on what makes your work different, rather than what makes it similar.
Keep writing, even if it sucks
This is a seriously tough one to stick to. It’s very easy to look at a piece of writing you did a few weeks ago, and cringe at the writing style and ideas. That’s fine and normal: don’t throw it away though. Instead, make changes to it so that you stop cringing when you read it and carry on writing, rinsing and repeating until eventually, you have something you’re proud of.
Inspiration is a luxury, not a requirement
One of the biggest mistakes writers make is waiting around for inspiration to strike them, before continuing onto the next chapter/paragraph/word. Going about it this way, you will likely never get past the first few pages. Keep writing, push through, and you’ll soon discover that you can create your own inspiration.
I know this is hardly a comprehensive list, and there is much more to be said on the nature of writing, but if you are determined and passionate, you will succeed.
If this list has inspired you to pick up your pen/pencil/keyboard and write something, we would love to read it. Send your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org and not only will we read it, but we may even publish it too! Good luck and happy writing!
By Rory James, Creative Writing Editor