Your First Steps To Becoming A Writer

What's the first step to​ becoming a​ writer? You'd think it​ would be "write", but it's not. in​ speaking to​ other writers and from what I know of​ my own journey to​ becoming a​ writer, I've come to​ realize that the biggest obstacle for new writers is​ that they don't think of​ themselves as​ writers. They have trouble developing the belief that they are writers and yet it's something you have to​ do. When you haven't developed that belief, that conviction, it​ becomes a​ source of​ sabotage--you don't value your work enough to​ give it​ the time and the space it​ needs. How do you come to​ think of​ yourself as​ a​ writer, especially when you're not earning a​ paycheck as​ a​ writer? Here are a​ few tips:

What Happens When You Write?

If you want to​ be a​ writer, I'm assuming you feel you have something to​ say and a​ strong desire to​ say it. You may not know how you're going to​ say it​ or​ in​ what form (poetry, novel, essay, etc.) but you know something is​ there. Okay, you pick up your pencil or​ pen or​ you sit down to​ your computer or​ typewriter. Write something. Whatever you write, just make sure your heart is​ in​ it. it​ doesn't have to​ be perfect, it​ doesn't have to​ be neat. it​ does have to​ be expressive.

Next, as​ painful as​ it​ may be, you have to​ show this writing to​ someone. it​ can be a​ friend, it​ can be a​ family member. Then, pay attention to​ what happens. Did the person reading your work cry, laugh or​ get angry? if​ so, you did that! it​ means you can have an​ effect with your writing. It's worth something. You have to​ keep going!

A teenager recently wrote to​ me concerned because she's writing fiction and she's worried her mother will read it​ and get upset because she thinks it's stuff the teenager really did. On the one hand, that is​ a​ bummer to​ have to​ explain yourself to​ your mother, but on the other hand--wow, that means the young lady's work is​ believeable and effective. That kind of​ feedback is​ hard to​ ignore. It's powerful motivation to​ keep you going--if you take the time to​ notice and honor that it's happening. I once had a​ writer say to​ me, "I don't know if​ my stuff is​ any good. I just know that when people read it, they cry." I told her you can't get a​ message any clearer than that kind of​ response. Now she just has to​ listen to​ it.

Cultivate Silence

If you're having trouble thinking about what it​ is​ you have to​ say, it​ may help you to​ spend some time each day in​ silence. Some writers pray. Some meditate. The idea is​ to​ get used to​ clearing your brain space and tuning in​ to​ your inner voice. You'll also be more aware of​ those little scraps of​ possibility floating around in​ your head that can later grow into big ideas.

What Do You Want to​ Write? Experiment!

It's okay if​ you don't know what you want to​ write about. it​ may take a​ long time journaling for you to​ see what keeps coming up for you. And it​ may take longer to​ find the form that fits you best. I went from poetry to​ essays to​ long-form letter writing before I settled on fiction. it​ took me years to​ do that. it​ doesn't mean I won't do anything else in​ those genres, but what I'm doing right now just fits. I encourage you to​ experiment until you find the form that suits your writing best.

Continually Remind Yourself You Are a​ Writer

As you develop your belief that you're a​ writer, it's helpful to​ set up reminders that will jog you back to​ that brain space that you need to​ be in​ to​ write. When you sit down to​ write it's easy to​ get distracted and starting thinking about doing laundry or​ what's for dinner. You'll want to​ have something either on your desk or​ on the wall in​ front of​ you that reminds you to​ get back to​ work and that you are a​ writer.

It might be your list of​ values that remind you that writing is​ a​ part of​ who you are. it​ may be simple words such as​ CREATE or​ INSPIRE. Isabel Allende, who writes beautiful, historical novels will sit in​ her office with photos around her, old photos of​ people who essentially represent her characters so she’s surrounded by them. That puts her back into the brain space of​ her book because she is​ sitting in​ their world; these people are all around her.

What world do you need to​ be in? The journey you take to​ get there will be one of​ many you'll take as​ a​ writer. I hope these ideas will help you take those first steps. What you write--and where you go from here--is entirely up to​ you. Bon Voyage.

© 2018 Sophfronia Scott

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