This blog is now a little over a year old. Unfortunately, it’s original purpose as a place to showcase my writing, has been abandoned in that time. It’s not because I’ve stopped writing, but a lot of my writing is now focused on larger projects, and fewer short stories. This unfortunately makes it hard to keep up regular posts.
Instead, I’m going to start using this blog to help answer some of the more common questions I hear. Alongside the writing I’ve been doing, I also help moderate on /r/WritingPrompts, a community of over two million subscribers, many of whom are various stages of amateur writers themselves. Many of them who are just starting to write for the first time. Today’s post is for them.
Lexi’s Rules for Beginner Writers
- Start Writing. And I mean start writing now. I would urge you to stop reading this post, find a word processor or notebook you like, and start writing something. You probably won’t, but the only way to become a writer is to stop thinking about it and to go do it. Don’t worry, we’ll come back to this.
- Write Every Day. This is a hard one, but it’s also an important one. Don’t just write ‘when the mood strikes,’ aim to write something every single day. Even if it’s bad. The best way to track this is to get a calendar and cross of every day, but only after you’ve finished writing something.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you fail rule #2. Okay, so #2 is important, but this point is just as important. It’s really important to try and write every day, but don’t let your past failures encourage you into just giving up and never starting again. So you messed up once. Do better tomorrow.
- Publish everything. And I don’t mean through a proper publishing channel, but put your work out on the internet. This is a great case for the community I linked above, Reddit’s /r/WritingPrompts, but you can just as easily do it here on WordPress. It takes maybe 5 minutes to create a blog or a reddit account, and start posting your work. Post your story in the comments here if you want. The reason for this is to counteract fear. Most people fail to develop a new ability when they get scared that they’ll do it badly. They worry that their stuff isn’t as good as everyone else’s. No one’s work starts out perfect or even decent. The only way to get past that is to keep doing it. Publishing your work, even when you’re just starting out, even when your writing is bad, ensures you’ll never get caught in a loop of hiding your stuff away until it’s ‘perfect’. Sure, it might suck. Someone might even tease you. But they don’t know you. They don’t know that you’re going to get better, and this is just the first step to that.
- Ask for people’s opinions. Especially when you liked your piece. This one can be hard, because a lot of people don’t want to give away their time. Don’t make them give away their time for free. There’s plenty of communities out there that will offer a critique for a critique, many of them on Reddit such as /r/WritingCritiques. There’s other writers who want feedback, offer an exchange. You read their work, you read theirs. Or ask a friend. Friends are good for that.
- Critique your own work. Read what you’ve written back to yourself. Do it out loud. Do it carefully. Does it still sound good? Do parts of it make you cringe? Go back and try to fix them, make them sound better.
- Read and critique other people’s work. Read other people’s writing. Read lots of it. Re-read your favourite book, and try to isolate the parts that make it your favourite. What was the author doing? What details did he elaborate on? What did they skim? How did they fill up so many words? Join a critique group, find what issues other people had.
- But mostly importantly, START WRITING NOW. If you can’t think of a topic, go to /r/WritingPrompts to find one. If you don’t like the prompts, take half of one. Twist it around until you do like it. Pick one where ‘What happens next?’ feels painfully obvious and just write it. No more excuses, no more talking about writing. Just write. Procrastination time is over and this article is finished.