How to Begin To Write
Welcome to my tutorial on how to start writing. This tutorial isn't going to teach you the rules of grammar, or punctuation. Let's face it there is a plethora of such tutorials already out there. Instead, this tutorial is going to teach you the tools you can use to get a head start on writing.
You Are a Writer
First things first: acknowledge that you are already a writer. What? You're not? You could have fooled me. Let's face it; from the moment we're born, we're unwittingly taught to become writers. Language is one of the first tools we learn, and along with that, story telling. You may have never sat down and written a full-length novel, but I assure you, you are a writer.
Throw Out Your How-To Guides
The first thing you should do when you want to begin writing is throw out every dictionary, thesaurus, and writing guide you've ever owned. (Well put it away anyhow). I've found that one of the biggest obstacles facing new writers is the sheer mountain of advice and "you should do it this way
" 's that they get. I say hogwash! There's a time and place for all that advice it's called the editing phase. If you spend all your time worrying about whether or not you're writing "well" you're never going to write-you'll just edit, edit, edit.
writers editors out there are probably sitting in their seats screaming "No! Don't tell them that!" -with this sort of horrified look on their face. I wish I had a camera. What they don't want you to know is: everyone writes crap their first draft. Yah, over time you inherently learn to weed out the mistakes so your first drafts become cleaner but I don't want you worrying about it right now. It isn't important. The best thing to do is just write.
You Don't Need a Plot To Write
"But Mio we don't have a plot. What about plot structure?" What about it? I know they tell you "make sure you have this and this and OMG DON'T FORGET THAT," but honestly; it's just another obstacle. If you worry about your plot right off the bat, you're going to be sitting there hashing out details until you're sick of your story and no longer want to write it. Why? Because you have already written it! Maybe it's not flowery, or full of dialogue, but you got the story out, and now it doesn't want back into your head. Don't be afraid to throw out your plot outline. You can always fix the plot later.
In fact, the truth is, most of us already know all this "plot structure" stuff already. We might not be able to quote to you what it's all about, but we know it. Trust your subconscious mind, and let it iron out the plot for you. Worry about writing not about having it make sense at this point.
"So what do we write about?" Anything! That's the beauty of it. You don't always have to go into a story with a plan. Go grab a random picture off DeviantART and write about what you see in the picture. Describe the environment, the people make dialogue up. It doesn't really matter. Just write a sentence. Every story starts with one, and if you have one, you're already ahead of most writers. Believe it or not, the hardest thing about writing is just sitting down and doing it. Once you have that mastered, you're well on your way.
If you want to exercise your ability to write do writing prompts! You don't have to do prompts you find on the internet, you can make up your own. Pick something up off your desk right now, and start a sentence with it. Here: I'll do it.
Pink, green, blue, purple-vibrant squares of paper littered the desk. Many of them had been crumpled or scribbled across, most of them forgotten. Mio was a bit of a slob, and like most slobs, she hid behind an organizational nightmare of sticky-notes. Unfortunately, sticky notes were the least of her problems
See, wasn't that hard. Sometimes the most random things can lead to a story.
Now let's move on to dialogue. This seems to be the hardest thing for anyone to write and I'm not entirely sure why. Every story needs it, and it's easy to write. How do I know? Because I speak. If you speak, you can write dialogue. People have a tendency to try to write their dialogue like their narrative (seriously what are you guys thinking) and you can't. If you try, it'll come out sounding unrealistic. The exercise I've learned (and still employ) when it comes to dialogue is this: speak. That's it. There's no magic secret, just
speak. Find an empty room in your house where you can talk to yourself, and sit down and say all of your dialogue aloud. It won't be long before you'll see what's wrong with it.
For example: Read these two sentences aloud.
1."Broderick you are absolutely infuriating. I really wish you'd just go jump off a cliff."
(omg I'm sorry Brody)
2. "Jerk." With a hard shove, I sent him reeling into the door. "Get out."
(Look I said three words, and got my point across. I didn't need to be flowery or have tons of dialogue to do it. Remember: No one is going to stand around in real life while you go on and on in a monologue... so why would your characters?
Some of you may have heard of NaNoWriMo. For those of you who haven't, I highly recommend it. Every November writers from all over the world get together at www.nanowrimo.org to attempt the spectacular feat of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. (That's a small novel). NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. There is no prize at the end of the 30 days, other than a hearty pat on the back but trust me, its well worth it to participate. I've participated three years running. The first year I started 17 days into it, and still managed to win with 51k words. The second year I was three days late, and ended up with 52k words. Last year, I finished with 56k words in 10 days. Think you can't do it? RUBBISH.
The reason I mention NaNo, is that it has taught me a very valuable lesson, and one I hope to express here: The writer's biggest obstacle, is just starting to write. Once you quit worrying about all that grammar and punctuation, it becomes simple to write. Set a goal for your day (2k words a day is not unreasonable) and sit down, and write. When you're done throwing out your story even if it's utter crap you'll have accomplished more than most.
Write. Just go do it. Forget all the nay-sayers and people who want to tell you "how" to write, and just go do it. The worst thing that'll happen is that you'll a) finally have some words on paper and b) you'll gain some experience. I don't see anything wrong with either of those. Relax. Writing is supposed to be fun. Keep your first draft free of editing (leave that to the second draft), all you need to worry about, is getting that story down on paper.
A tutorial on the second draft (the editing process D: ) will arrive shortly.