Tuesday, July 6

How I Write: Week Four - How to Start

The first step can be the hardest on a WIP. It involves a big leap of faith and the belief that your story, your characters, your writing is enough to create a novel. It's a declaration and a dedication of your time. It's more than I WILL write....It's I AM writing. Before I ever started putting words on paper, I was a writer that didn't write. Today, I'm a writer no matter what I'm doing, it's a shift in my mindset and the way I view myself and it all happened when I finally started.

For over a year, I surrounded myself with books about writing. My blog reader was (and is) filled with blog posts from writers. I needed to immerse myself in the world of writing before I ever sat down to write. This can only take you so far and it was the day I finally sat down with my hands on the keys, my butt in the chair, that I finally became a writer. Below are some of things that helped me and continues to help me to hit that first key.

Hurry Up and Wait
Think about what you're going to write. Dream about your characters. Imagine conversations, settings, and plot points but don't write. Set a date to start your WIP and stick to it. Build up motivation but hold yourself back. It' a mind game but it really does work to help you to get through that first step and continue on.

Goals, Goals, Goals
Be realistic and practical. Write them down and stick to it. If you're honest with yourself and set appropriate word counts goals, you'll find that they keep you writing when you'd rather be sleeping, cleaning, or loafing. If you're just starting out, a small daily goal like 250 words might be better than, say, 2,500 words. Always try to end you're writing shift in the middle of a push. That push will get you through to the next day and have you sitting down with your computer or pad as soon as possible.

I love trying out new software, especially anything related to writing and productivity. The problem with new 'shiny software' is that it can derail your attempt to start (or move on) with your WIP. Either learn it before you start or hold off until you've finished your goal for the day. Do not let tough learning curves get in the way of your daily writing goals.

Once you've set up goals, you need to hold yourself accountable to them. Join a writer's group online or in person. Share your goals with friends or relatives. Keep a calendar or goals chart. Be proud of yourself and every day you reach your target. For every met mark, you'll find yourself hesitant to stop for fear of losing momentum or breaking the chain.

Click on the How I Wrote Logo above to find a listing of the other writers participating in this blog series. 


How to Write Your Novel in 100 Days or Less - a program to get you from start to finish on your novel
How to Write a Book - Easily, Passionately, Skillfully - Starting Now - a site dedicated to getting started and moving forward
A Guide to Beating the Fears that Are Holding You Back - Fear is paralyzing. Read this Zen Habits post on how to beat it.

No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days - the founder of NaNoWriMo, a wildly popular phenomenon that gets writers (and previously non-writers) to write a 50,000 word novel in the busy month of November
This Year You Write Your Novel - Author Walter Mosley gives instruction and motivation to get that novel written.


Kris said...

Awesome post, Isabelle. I know for a long time I didn't call myself a "writer" -- I felt like a total poser. It's a mindset, you're right!

Tatiana Caldwell said...

Something you pointed out here that is key to me: be "honest with yourself and set appropriate word count goals". You have to not get caught up in what other writers are producing and determine what works for you. If you set your goals too high for yourself, the pressure and stress of trying to reach that unachievable number will hamper your productivity.

Ansha said...

I agree too attainable goals are important. I often set goals I'm unable to achieve and it's a total downer. I've learned though to keep getting back on the horse though... now I just need to learn to set appropriate goals. :) Great resource links. I'm off to check them out.
Nice new blog template Isabelle!

jennifercarson said...

This is wonderful advice! Accountability is a big issue for me too. having that critique group that is counting on you really helps motivate and know what you can reasonably accomplish in the times in between meeting.

Kay said...

Very practical advice. I can't wait to check out the links--after I do my writing for today.

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