Despite my motivational blog yesterday, I didn’t get much writing done as I was feeling under the weather. After half sleeping through work (thank God I didn’t have anything important to do) and buying a ton of healthy food, I opted to go to bed early instead of attending to my story.
A couple of you expressed various difficulties you have getting started on your own story. As someone who hasn’t even finished her first draft of her first book, I can hardly give you professional writing advice. However, what I can share is how I got started.
From all I have researched, it seems that writing the first draft of any story is always the hardest part. I would argue that the second hardest part of the writing process is committing yourself. Before writers even begin, the numbers are against them. I once read that, of all the people who say they will write a book someday, only 1% actually follow through. Of those who do, 1% will see their book professionally published.
With these dismal chances in your mind, I’m going to start with the simplest and most difficult advice. Be madly driven and know your body’s limits. When do you write best, morning or night? Make your choice and plan a couple of hours every day to write. Some nights, you will do little more than stare at a blank page, but it’s still worth while. So long as you are thinking of your story, you are ahead of everyone who only dreams. You have to know your body, though. This has been one of my hardest lessons to learn and, honestly, I have yet to master the art of body maintenance. If you deprive yourself of sleep, good food and fitness, you will fall apart. You will exhaust yourself, which will result in more writer blocks and dwindling motivation. Writing a book is already hard enough. You can’t afford to lose your motivation, so take care of yourself.
How to overcome the plague of self-doubt
The most important thing to remember here is that good writers need a healthy dose of self-doubt. The second you read something and say to yourself, “this is great; I’m a genius,” be worried. I’ve heard it from writers, bloggers and seen it myself. More often than not, the writing that brings you the most anxiety and self-doubt is the writing that other will love. Don’t let self-doubt stop you. You need to it be a great writer.
Picking one idea out of many
I relate to this all too well. I’d say I spent the last couple years struggling with a ton of ideas. After I started one, I’d wonder if I should actually be starting another. Nothing gets done that way.
Here is my recommendation to all who have this problem. This is something I did last year and it has worked well for me. Take a day and write out all of your ideas. Don’t write a book. Instead, write out every plot, every twist and every concept that you have yet to work out. I used a physical note-book, but if you’d rather use a Word Document, it would probably be easiest to create a separate document for each idea.
Now, everything is in front of you. You have given your ideas a physical existence. Pick one and run with it, knowing that you have created a space to record new ideas. Trust me, it will happen. You’ll be in the middle of your story when you suddenly think of a brilliant idea for another. Make a note of that in the appropriate note-book or document, and then move on with the story you are working on.
This is how you get started. It won’t be easy and the numbers are always going to be against you. That’s just part of the writing game. Those of us who are writers, write knowing our chances. Don’t write for someone else or in the hopes of making money. When we write, we write for ourselves. We write because we have to give our stories life and because we will go mad if keep them locked inside.