This is a guest post by Alex J. Coyne
Obviously I can’t tell you how to write. Nobody can do that. It’s like trying to tell someone how to breathe or blink their eyes.
What I can tell you is how to make writing easier for you.
If you think it takes talent to write, you’re half right. Talent has to be there, but talent is only half the battle.
Talent is something everyone has in them. Heck, talent is something you can buy at the local corner shop for a few cents. It’s hard work that separates those who want to write from those who can.
Here are 8 tips to help you get started:
- Write something. Every day. Status messages on Facebook, Tweets and angry letters to the electrical company don’t count. Even if it’s just a few hundred words on a random topic or a sentence that describes something you saw today. Nothing written is ever a waste.
- Don’t erase what you’ve written, no matter how awful you think it is. Like I just said, nothing written is a waste. You could always rewrite it once you’re done or if it’s that awful just shove it in the bottom of a drawer and forget about it, but never get rid of it.
- Never write for money. People who make a living with their work will argue with me on this, but I stand by it. If I write for the sake of writing, I write at an extreme pace and my work is always better than the last, but the moment I start writing with the sole purpose of trying to make a quick buck I experience a block that lasts for weeks. Write for the sake of writing, not for the sake of money. It only deadens your creative spirit and sucks the life out of your work.
- Eliminate distractions when you write. This is a pretty old tip, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. No matter how many times the neighbor calls today or how badly you want to watch that show on television, once you’re sitting down to write, do it. Giving in to constant distractions will later lead to an endless cycle of procrastination.
- Write anything down immediately. If I get the urge to write I have to do it the moment the idea pops into my head. If I don’t the idea will fade in a while and I’ll never get around to putting it onto paper. You could keep a notebook with you and jot down the basics or just the opening paragraph. Keep a Dictaphone and record it. Save it on your phone. Just don’t let an idea wait until later because it’s hard to recapture that initial flair.
- Get your environment right, but don’t push it. I can’t write when my desk is a mess. I have to clean it up before I start, and most writers have some sort of ritual before they start writing (and I’m sure something popped into your head right now). Do your pre-writing ritual if it makes you comfortable, but don’t let it turn into a three hour session of “I have to do this before I can write because…” that keeps you from doing it.
- Don’t show your work to anyone until it’s done. This might not work for everyone, but it works for me. Showing an unfinished piece of work to someone creates an expectation that I suddenly realize I can’t meet. As soon as it’s finished I’ll usually send a copy to a close friend so that I can get an opinion, but until then only I get to see it.
- Ignore the critics. Even if you achieve success as a writer there will always be someone who says, “I hate this piece of writing.” Some people are tactful about it and others are just plain blunt. It doesn’t matter. Take creative criticism, anything else you can take with a pinch of salt.
This isn’t a failsafe way towards knowing how to write, but it’ll keep you focused and motivated to continue. Don’t stop writing.
What tips do you have to get started–and stick with–writing?
About The Author: Alex J Coyne is a South African guitarist and occasional writer. He can be found at his Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/alexcoyneofficial.