If you ask a group of people if they’ve ever entertained the possibility of being a writer, you might be surprised as how many say they have. Writing a book is something a lot of people dream of doing.
However, many people see it as something that’s outside the realm of possibility. They might not see themselves as writers and don’t see writing as the type of skill that can be learned. They mistakenly believe you’re either a writer or you aren’t. You either have it or you don’t.
However, the truth is very different. Writing is something anyone can learn to be better at, and none of us are born as skilled writers. It’s true that some people may have a higher level of starting ability than others. But that’s merely the start point of their journey. What really matters is the hours you’re willing ot put in and the extent to which you’re committed to the journey.
But believing that writing is a learnable skill is only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to have the right starting beliefs and practices to transition from a novice to an experienced wordsmith. If you’re just starting out, we’ve got you covered! These writing tips for beginners will alow you to start your journey as a writer effectively and efficiently.
Know your reason for writing
Like anything difficult or challenging in this life, the level of your persistence is usually equal to the depth of your reason for wanting to do it. If you have a strong motivation, you’re far more likely to stick at writing and achieve the level of experience you need to get good.
Your reason for writing is personal. Perhaps it’s simply doing something you love. Or maybe you feel you have a valuable message you want to share to the world. You might want to leave a lasting legacy and rightly believe writing to be one of the best ways to achieve it.
No matter what your reason is, find it, and hold onto it tight. It will serve you well when the going gets tough.
Prepare your writing environment
The place you write, and the tool you write with, will make a huge difference to your level of success. It can be easy to underestimate this as a beginner.
Just to give you an idea of some of the choices you need to make, consider that some prefer to write at home in solitude while others prefer the buzz of a coffee shop. Morning people might do their best work at the crack of dawn while night owls produce better writing while burning the midnight oil. You might want to write to music or find that silence is a better choice.
There’s a chance you already know the type of environment you want to write in. However, there’s no shame if you don’t! Just pick what feels right at first and don’t be afraid to mix it up as you go along.
Above all, don’t take too long tweaking your writing environment instead of actually writing. Otherwise you will end up tricking yourself into believing you’re doing something useful when in actual fact you’re just procrastinating.
New writers are often unprepared for the level of focus and concentration needed to write effectively. The distractions that are so common to day to day life should be minimized as much as possible.
This means not browsing the internet in another tab while you write, even if you try to kid yourself that it’s research! Do your prep before writing, and make a note if you need to come back to something, Don’t interrupt your flow.
Also, don’t let your phone or email interrupt you. You’ll never get immersed if you do, and your quality and output will suffer as a result.
Build your writing muscle gradually
It’s important not to burn yourself out as a new writer. It’s better to start gradually and work up to longer and more frequent writing sessions further down the line,
For example, you might look at your calendar and decide that you have four hours after work before bed each evening. Therefore, you’ll dedicate all four to writing! However, in reality, you’ll probably attempt one or two of these sessions and then feel so put off that you don’t write again for some time.
Instead, be smart and schedule in comfortable sessions of a shorter duration. Once you are able to stick to them consistently, feel free to ramp up and devote more time to writing.
Set a schedule
Don’t fall victim to the mistaken view that writing is some mystical creative pursuit and should only be engaged in when the mood strikes you.
In truth, writing is just work. It will be tough and at times tedious. You can’t afford to rely on the whims of your mood. A smarter approach is to create a manageable writing schedule and stick to it. Over time, you build up discipline, consistency, and skill. That simply isn’t possible if you only write on an ad hoc basis.
Writers aren’t closed systems. Your mind takes input from the source material you feed it with. You therefore owe it to yourself and your craft to read as much as you can. Stephen King even says that reading as much as possible is a non-negotiable part of being a good writer.
If you’re not in the habit of reading, take a look at your schedule. Which leisure activities could be swapped for some dedicated reading time? If you’re serious about success as a writer you need to find the time to read.
Connect with other writers
Even though writing is something we typically do on our own, it doesn’t mean it has to be lonely.
Connecting with other writers gives you an invaluable support network to lean upon, both emotionally and practically. It’s easier than ever thanks to online groups and communities to find and connect with other writers and assist each other through your challenges and triumphs.
Celebrate your wins
A key principle of forming a successful habit is positive reinforcement. You want to celebrate when things are going well in your writing life. This can be as simple as treating yourself to your favorite coffee when you sit down to write, or rewarding yourself with a treat purchase when you complete a writing project.
By doing this, you allow yourself to associate pleasure with writing, cementing it as a habit and making it more likely for you to stick with it in the long run.
Comparison is the thief of joy
One of the worst mistakes you can make is comparing yourself negatively to other writers. That applies both to your level of skill and your level of success. Not only is it unrealistic to compare yourself to someone else, as you never truly know how good they are or how they’ve achieved their success, but it’s also pointless. It won’t get you anywhere other than feeling discouraged.
Instead, try and limit yourself only to taking joy and inspiration from other writers. Celebrate the success of those around you. By all means learn from writers you admire, both famous and those in your peer group. But if you ever catch yourself engaging in negative thoughts, put a stop to it! That’s energy you could be devoting to your writing.