First time writers: Ready, Set, Bleed!
The day has arrived, you tell yourself. This is the day I’m going to become an author! No more working at McDonald’s or that dead-end office job. I’ve got a best seller in my mind that will take the world by storm! So what do you do first?
Don’t give up your regular job unless you are able to afford it. If you have a spouse that earns a decent income and you’re working just to have something to do, talk it over with them. You may have a great story to tell, but wanting to rely on that one idea to earn money is the quickest path to ruin. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a book. You will become annoyed, frustrated, and angry. Many times you will question your decision to become a writer. You will feel alone and lonely. If the words aren’t flowing you may feel depressed. All this is normal.
My first suggestion is find a quiet place to write. Preferably a home office or a bedroom where you can shut the door and ignore the rest of the world while you write. If that isn’t possible find a quiet corner in a room or go to the library to write.
If possible, set a specific time for writing each day. Let people know you don’t want to be disturbed during this time, unless there’s an emergency. Keep distractions to the minimum, background music is fine. Don’t open your browser unless you really need to look something up for what you are writing.
Set a reasonable goal each day. Two hundred words, five hundred words, a thousand words. Select something you feel comfortable doing. Going over the limit you set is fine.
Write every day. It doesn’t matter if what you write has nothing to do with your book. Get into the habit of sitting down and putting something on paper or the computer.
Join a writing group, Being an author is a lonely life, and interacting with others who are of like mind will help tremendously. Check your local library or college for writing groups, also check Facebook. There are a number of good groups on FB. Writers World is a great one for critiques of your work and the lessons on writing you can find there.
Be ready for frustration when you are writing. Sometimes the words sputter and fail, making no sense whatsoever. Maybe what you wrote is full of clichés and needs to be deleted or the page torn out and crumpled into a ball for the cat to play with. People may say you’re wasting your time, that no one will want to read what you write. Don’t listen to them. Follow your heart. Believe in yourself. There will be times when you think “Why the heck did I decide to write a book in the first place? What makes me think anyone will care about what I write?” Having these doubts are normal. Don’t dwell on them, sit there, and put something on the page.
Read! I can’t stress this enough! Read books in the genre you are writing, read books outside of the genre. Read history and science books. Read books on writing, editing, and revisions. Read the classics. Study their style, the characters, and the dialogue.
When you aren’t writing — out and about at work or shopping or with friends; observe how people act, how they dress, and how they talk. Take note of the weather or the way the sky looks at sunset or sunrise. Listen to the various sounds in the world around you. All of this can be incorporated into what you write.
Pay attention to your own feelings in various situations. Write them down in a notebook, along with other observations you make. It doesn’t have to be a journal or a diary, merely notes on emotions, how you felt when you were angry, sad, happy, excited. If you need to write an emotional scene, think about how you felt with that emotion and transfer it to the characters involved.
When you write you’re putting yourself out there for the world to see. Every word, every sentence is a part of you. The characters are drawn from the people you know, have met in passing, or seen at the local coffee shop. As a writer, you live in two worlds — one you create for your characters and the one you live in every day. You cross the line between these worlds each time you put pen to paper, bringing the real world to your created world.
Now get to it! Let the words flow!
May the words ever flow!