November is “National Novel Writing Month”. Here at Dice Mom, we are celebrating by writing our first Dungeons and Dragons adventure! (COMING SOON) If you are a novice writer, the thought of writing an entire novel can easily feel daunting and intimidating. I feel you! But have no fear!
If you are reading this, you might have caught the writing bug for the first time. Or maybe its something you always wanted to try but never got around to for one reason or another. Or possibly you used to write years ago, but have gotten out of the habit. This month is the time to pick up that pen, or dust off that key board, and give it a go!
You might be interested in writing short stories, poetry, letters, or blogs. Or maybe you are thinking about starting a diary or a gratitude journal. No matter what your goal, this article can help.
To get those creative juices flowing, we’re going to talk about some of the steps that I have found helpful when starting a new writing project!
This is the first, and probably the most important step in picking a writing project. If you do not feel inspired, it will show in your writing. And that’s if you finish the project at all! So, what inspires you?
Think about these questions:
- What kind of media do you consume? TV shows? Movies?
- What do you like to read about?
- Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy?
- What has been on your mind lately? Current events? Life events?
- What do you like to talk about with your friends or family members?
When I see or hear something that sparks an idea, I make sure to write it down right away so I don’t lose it! You can keep a small pen and notepad with you, or just start a google doc on your phone as your “inspiration wall”. My blog has a white board in my office where I write down all of my ideas. Those ideas can then go on to inspire other ideas, and then you can really get going!
Conquer Your Fear
This step is the least labor-intensive one, but it can be the biggest mental hurtle to cross when writing. Don’t be afraid of bad ideas. That fear will do nothing to help you reach your goal. It will only serve to lead you down the infuriating and frustrating road to writers-block.
If you find yourself going down that path, grab a pen and a notebook and write down a list of terrible ideas. Just jot down everything that pops into your head. No one else is going to see it, so don’t worry about if it sounds dumb, or silly, or weird. Write it down. Set a number, make at least 25 terrible ideas. Once you get going, it will start getting easier and, believe it or not, you will end up jogging something loose in your brain. Its like unclogging a drain by pushing through the muck with a roto rooter.
After you find something you want to write about, you might second guess yourself. While this is normal, it is important to conquer that insecurity. Know that every writer, even the professionals, wrestle with these feelings. The biggest difference between you and them is that they kept working anyway. So don’t give up!
Make an Outline
Some writers can just start with a blank document, begin typing their project from start to finish, and end up with a cohesive product that they are happy with. I think most of us, however, need to step back for a moment and take the initial step of making an outline.
An outline doesn’t have to be complex. The one I made for this article is only a single page of lined paper. It is just a way to organize all of your thoughts on the subject before you start writing about it.
How do you organize the points you want to make sure and cover? There are several ways you can do so, and the way you chose depends on the subject you are covering. Some examples are:
- Importance. You will want to list from least to most important so that you end your project on the point that is the most impactful and the one you want your audience to remember the most.
- Chronologically. When writing about a recipe, or any step by step process (like this article for instance) you will want to list the process in order from first to last.
- Cause/Effect. This is important when trying to explain or argue a point of view. You will be writing in the style of: “this” happened and, as a result, “that” happened.
Once you have your main ideas organized, you can start putting everything else you want to say under those categories.
No matter what your writing project is, even if its just a letter to a friend, you will want to make it easy to read and your ideas easy to follow! An outline will allow you to put your thoughts on paper in a way that others can understand.
Make a Schedule
Whether you have decided to become a full-time writer, or are doing this as a part-time hobby, it is important to make yourself a schedule. Life gets in the way! If you don’t hold yourself accountable by making a schedule, you will always be able to find excuses to put it off or let it fall by the wayside. What a disservice that would be to yourself and your passion!
No matter your personal circumstances, it is possible to make a writing schedule. Whether its a gratitude journal you write in 15 minutes every evening before you go to sleep, or a short story you work on for an hour every Sunday, the key to your schedule is consistency.
The next, and admittedly, hardest part is holding yourself to that schedule. But just like exercise, or studying, or anything else that you have to make room for in your schedule, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Not only because you get into the habit of doing it, but because as you write, you get better at it!
Share with Others
Once you have finished writing and re-read the project yourself, fine tuning the wording and perfecting the introduction and conclusion, it is time to share!
If you are starting a blog, or writing a short story, this could mean sharing your work online. You can start by simply using social media accounts that you already have set up. The fact is, the internet is a place of sharing, you don’t have to consider yourself a “professional writer” to contribute!
The thought of strangers reading your work might be too overwhelming. Believe me, I get that! Or maybe your work is just too personal to share on the world wide web. That’s okay! Pick a few trusted family members or friends to share your project with. Make sure it is someone who will give you positive and honest feedback. By sharing your work with those who will encourage your passion, it will give you the confidence to keep going!
Writing can be such a cathartic experience. It exercises your intellect and inspires your creative side. Putting our thoughts and emotions on paper can even act as a kind of therapy . Whether you think you can write well or not, you will never know until you try! And in the end, if it makes YOU feel good, and acts as a positive force in your life, that is the most important thing!
So, when should you get started? Why not today!