If you want to start writing but don’t know how or where to begin, this article is for you.
Beginning your writing journey can initially seem daunting – what do I write about? What form will I write? Will it be any good? – these questions are common but can prevent us from ever getting started.
In this article, we’ll offer tips and advice on how to start writing, whether you want to write a novel or a poem, a blog, an essay, or a script!
How to start writing
Writing can be a lifelong passion when you learn to enjoy it. Learning how to write well, to write stories that touch readers and make a lasting impact, takes time.
1. Be patient with yourself
First things first, manage your expectations. Writing is a craft; like other crafts, it takes practice, discipline, and time to hone your skills and produce quality work. As such, don’t expect to write the next bestseller overnight.
Still, though you may not write the next Ulysses in your first work, practice is key. The more you write, the more you find your writer’s voice.
The more you learn what forms and styles you enjoy and which you don’t, the deeper the relationship between you and the blank page before you.
If you’re just starting as a writer, learn to embrace the writing process. You may get frustrated, excited about an idea, or stuck with how to express yourself.
Give up perfectionism and instead allow yourself to write messy, from the heart, not the rational mind. Know that there is a big difference between a writer’s first drafts and the work you see published.
Don’t let perfectionism make you give up on this personal and transformative craft.
A love of reading is what most, if not all, writers share.
To become a versatile, relevant, and compelling writer, you must read as much as possible. Read multiple genres, different forms like essays, novels, and blogs. Keep a few books in your home per personal space, and read a little daily.
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”William Faulkner
Read poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The more you read, the more you discover different styles, writing methods, and even world perspectives that can inform your approach and voice.
3. Use prompts and exercises
New and seasoned writers use creative writing prompts and other writing exercises to get their creative juices flowing and discover new ideas.
Prompts are short sentences, ideas, or questions aimed at helping you write around your theme.
Many people who enjoy journaling use question prompts to spark a session of self-reflection and insight. Short story writers and novelists use prompts based on characters, settings, or exposition to write a narrative.
Prompts are great writing tools because two writers can write entirely different narratives based on the same prompt.
4. Consider different forms
Get to know different forms of writing to find what you enjoy the most. Novels and short stories differ from blogs; essays differ from poems, screenplays, or song lyrics.
The format, style, and techniques are different here, but all have one thing in common – they tell a story.
Try different forms and styles to find what works because this is how you tell your stories.
Types of writing
There are two main categories of writing:
Fiction writers create stories that are non-factual to engage, entertain, and move the reader. A fictional story can be based on everyday life or set in a fantasy world, whatever the author feels like writing about. Fiction writers create the events and unfolding of the story.
When it comes to writing fiction, short stories are a great place to start. A short story can be as short as 1,000 words, so it’s a great chance to practice and refine your story-telling skills. Don’t limit yourself too much when you start writing but understand that setting a word limit on a short story can help you practice eliminating the fluff and only include relevant details and move the plot forward.
As a first-time writer, you may feel intimidated by the idea of writing a novel, but once you hone the craft, improve your writing skills and develop your particular way of telling stories, writing that novel may not seem so far-fetched. Unlike the typical short story, novels allow you to dive into more significant complexities and nuances in your story.
If you want to write a novel or any story, it’s wise to create an outline. More on the importance of outlines later.
Writing poetry calls for a slightly different approach than short or novel writing. Here, form and structure are open, meaning you can exert much more creative freedom in expressing your thoughts and feelings.
Many writers write both prose and poetry over a writing career, where one can lead to inspiration for the other.
Nonfiction writing involve stories based on actual people and events
Essays cover either your personal experiences or your research-based opinions on a subject. As a new writer, essays are a great way to establish your knowledge and authority on a subject and share it with the world.
Blogging is how many writers begin their writing careers. Creating a blog site is easy and allows you to write and create content based on anything you’re passionate about. They are a great starting point for new writers who want to share their knowledge and opinions and work on expressing them in a way that is digestible for readers.
Writer tips for beginners
Below we’ve included writing advice for those who are just starting. The advice below includes techniques to help you develop a writing habit, a pivotal habit if you want to follow a writing career.
1. Gather your tools
A simple yet effective tip to help you not only cultivate a writing habit but also help you enjoy the process is to organize your writing tools. If you’re old-school and like to write with pen and paper, buy a pen and notebook/journal that you love.
Maybe you like the cover, the texture, the color of the paper, the weight of the pen in your hand, or even just the size of the book.
Create a joyful and aesthetically pleasing relationship with your writing tools so that you look forward to using them. This is a simple but effective technique to solidify the habit.
2. Find a writing space
In addition, find a space in which you like to write or in which you find it easier to flow. It can be a room in your house, your favorite coffee shop, or a local park bench. Wherever it is, make it essential.
Our connection to and sense of our surroundings influence the creative mind, so find space, tools, and a time of day that helps you feel your most creative and focused.
3. Write consistently
Write daily to find your voice and improve your craft. Writing is a highly personal art form, so you don’t need to confine your writing to a specific time of day – you can write whenever you wish, whenever inspiration strikes or story ideas come to mind. Still, it’s wise to also have a writing schedule, a set time each day or a few days a week, depending on your time, to write.
These daily, scheduled sessions don’t always have to yield pages and pages of work. If all you do in one session is write one line or paragraph, that’s still good work.
Having a schedule primes your creative brain for unleashing its ideas and stories at that time. Getting used to writing on that schedule may take a few days or weeks, but your consistency will pay off.
The best way to start writing is to do just that – start writing. When we often experience writer’s block, we want our work to be perfect, but striving for perfection leads to frustration and blank pages.
The best advice to start writing is to write, let it be messy, but write.