EIGHT STEPS ON BEGINNING WRITING

by Gabriel   Dec 8, 2016


*NOTE: This was first written in a sloppy paragraph on a different forum but MR. Darcy suggested this could be useful if I edited it and cleaned it up a bit. I tried putting it into quick bullet points but since each point has a detailed process I couldn't have done so without it not making much sense, anyways here it is.
Now I will admit that most of this more specifically applies to story writing but with a flexible mind I'm sure anybody can make use of it in any type of writing. I would have posted it in the writing poetry forum but since as I said it applies more to fiction writing I decided to put it here. Any constructive criticism, or suggestions on changing it are welcome.
I hope you enjoy it!

EIGHT STEPS ON BEGINNING WRITING

1. Find your creative playground. Where and when do you best come up with ideas?

What usually gets my minds creative fluids going and excited is when I'm listening to some enjoyable, emotional music then my writer's mind starts to wander and daydream; what would be a suitable piece of writing to fit the tone of this music? That's when the words start flowing freely in my head to express the emotion in my music. Other times it's when I'm cleaning the house, this is just an example of course. You can come up with ideas anywhere but just remember ask yourself the right questions and your mind will go running to find the answers.
Once these questions/places are realized as a help to generate ideas they can be used regularly.

2. Don't get lost in your daydreams but focus to filter out a good topic to write about.

Once you do start brainstorming ideas, that's where you can get lost because when your imagination is on the run, it's much easier to continue imagining and rambling from one idea to another rather than using one to actually write but if you keep going then you will eventually get bored of it. After all, ideas are cheap, aren't they? What makes them worth something is when you take a seat and actually take the time to write them down and polish them with your unique style into a refined writing ready to read. Then and only then will they be anything more than just a cheap idea.
So after you have a good handful of ideas its time to put some focus on them to decide what is worthy of writing. Writing isn't just some glossy thing with fancy words. The best writings are from the heart so ask yourself these questions; Does this idea matter to me? Is it important? Does it interest me at all? Can I relate to it? Am I passionate about it? Is it really worth sitting down for an hour or maybe more to write?
If your answer is mostly no to all these questions then obviously it isn't worth writing.

3. Don't let your ideas die from inaction.

The best time to write is when a good idea is fresh on the mind, the more you put it off the less fresh and raw it will be, and possibly the less enthusiastic you will be about writing it. So once you have chosen a topic to write the sooner you act on it the better.

4. Write a thesis for your idea.

Once you are about to write, it may be a good idea to write a quick thesis of your idea. A thesis is a small paragraph, or summarized statement of what your writing is. If your writing would be in an expose form then you would merely ask yourself; What is the point that I am trying to make? If it is a story then you would ask yourself in a nutshell; What is my story about? And simply enough the answer would be your thesis.
Keep in mind though that unless your writing is a full length novel then your thesis should only take from 5-10 minutes. If it was poetry then I could imagine you should be able to capture that idea's contents into words in only a couple of minutes. Remember then that however big your writing is, your thesis should only take a tiny fraction of that time writing and that's how it should be.
It shouldn't detour you from writing but help you write faster. Suppose you have a story you want to write. You sit down to write it, it takes about a week, and by the 4th day your story isn't even about the same thing anymore but something entirely different. You look back and you don't know what to do. That's where the importance of a thesis comes in. It's a constant reminder, a dependable anchor to stop you from floating off into some other direction with your writing, by telling you what your story is about. So make use of it unless you enjoy being lost in your story.

5. You can't start perfect.

When writing it's always good to keep in mind that starting somewhere is better than no where and writing something is better than nothing at all. What I'm getting at when I say this, is the fact that some writers (including myself especially) think that whatever goes down on paper must come down perfectly on paper. Hence a lot of the times they will have a staring contest with the computer screen trying to decide on a perfect line, until whatever motivation they had for writing is no more and they leave with no progress whatsoever to show for the couple of hours they spent sitting down. This is unrealistic thinking considering the fact that any trade or hobby you want to do will take trial and error to perfect. The same goes for writing. First you must have a complete, rough, draft, before anything else. After the rough draft is complete, then comes the editing, polishing, and perfecting of that piece, not before. The biggest reason editing is best saved for last is because when writing your rough draft anything can change by the time you get from start to finish. Your writing might start as one thing but can just as easily end up as something entirely different. So that heavily edited piece that you spent hours perfecting might not even fit in anymore. That is why it's better to have a complete or (as they say,) bigger picture of everything so that you can make all of the puzzle pieces fit by editing them once rather than editing as you go only to find out that some chapters need to be deleted, others switched around, others changed completely. So remember perfectionism on the go doesn't really go anywhere.

6. Stick to your anchor, be straight to the point.

Should you come up with detours, side plots or entirely different plots by themselves when writing then focus on what your idea originally was, of course it can change somewhat but you don't want to ramble and go everywhere with it otherwise it will be aimless, and lose momentum as well as the readers attention. To stop this from happening you got to ask yourself; What were my intentions when I first thought of writing this? What was the point that I wanted to make? And whatever that is stick with it. Of course if there is something that would go hand-in-hand with it and make the message more complete than by all means go ahead put it in but if you could just as easily leave that out and write it as a separate work by itself then it might be better to do so. And in case you would like to keep that idea then you can write a thesis for it as a quick memo to save it for later.

7. Break down your ideas into digestible bites.

Since I've come back to writing I've noticed in my old writings that I had the tendency to want to put too many messages, too many themes, and far to long sentences in them. You can't have something described with every possible description and said from every possible angle you're going to have to choose some and throw away others. You can only have so many ideas, before it's rambling.
If you have too many themes you want to put in your going to have to choose which ones to keep and which ones to dispose of, save for later in the story, or keep for a different story. If your sentences are really long break them down into short digestible bites for the reader. This applies to sentences, paragraphs, chapters and entire stories. In poetry you would break a sentence into fractions to create a flow, rhythm and even rhyme to the poem.

8. Show, don't tell.

This old adage refers to info dumping. At the time when I was a kid and first heard this saying, I thought, "Show don't tell? How does that make any sense? Isn't writing all about telling with words?" The answer is yes and no but the phrase still makes sense. Info dumping is when you overload the reader with mundane information that bores the reader. Your telling too much and doing all of the imagining for him. The best details give just enough information to the reader to put something into his mind but what that thing is exactly, is left up to the reader to make out. In this way for example you could throw him a noun, while that word has a specific meaning your not necessarily telling him exactly how this noun would look hence your giving him the room to imagine it himself. Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't use adjectives to describe things but rather you should use them with discretion and creative intuition.
If you go on about every little thing, your reader's mind will get bored, it will be like dragging him through an instruction book of detail rather than luring him in with words that spark his imagination and make him want to know more. Try to keep your message short but vibrant.
Show, don't tell doesn't only apply to description only but characterization as well. When I was a kid I would tell my readers who my characters were from the introduction, but that makes the story rather flat and even cliche, and readers don't want that. They just want you to show them a good story and let the story show them the actions of your characters. Then your readers can decide who and what your characters are.

Gabriel

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