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The Best Advice on Starting to Write

The best advice I can think of for someone who wants to write: Just Write. Come up with your story, your own characters, your own rules. Don’t write with an audience in mind, or even a goal. Write for yourself.

That’s how I started. I couldn’t find the type of book I wanted to read. So I decided to write it myself. I took time figuring out who my characters were and what my plot was. And I wrote.

My writing didn’t turn into a polished and completed work until I let outside influences in, but my voice was created. I wrote without reading, something that most will argue against. In those early stages I know my craft would have been heavily influenced. Instead I influenced myself.

Those original words on the page were for me. Sure, I had hoped to publish. But I wasn’t paying attention to what my novel needed in order to be published. I was setting out to do something I perceived as different, the type of novel I wanted to read but struggled to find. I was setting out to develop my art as a writer.

In the past year I have read and researched and ultimately hacked up my novel. Adverbs, clichés, the entire first section of my book, several heavy plot points. All were blindfolded and met with the firing squad.

The story, that’s still mine. The story survived, as has most of the words on the page. I continue writing now and have noticed that even though I may try emulating something I have read and liked, the words are still mine.

I have learned so much about my writing by comparing my original words to what others have written, and what rules and assumptions are in place for how novels should be. These rules are cumbersome and can wear and tear on a writer. They are not first draft rules.

First drafts are fun and free spirited. They are plot centered. Adverbs can run and play and frolic in the rolling cursor. Clichés can dance naked. Fragments can be plentiful. The plot is what comes out, the words start to come together, the craft begins to form. Editing is the bitch, editing can work things out. But without a solid draft, allowed to flow free, editing doesn’t have the right tools to play with.

So if you’ve always wanted to write. Open up a document or pick up a pen and paper. And write. For yourself. Have an idea what your end goal might be and keep that in the back of your mind. Let your craft come forth. Worry about the rest later.


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