Gaining Confidence When Writing For The First Time
From Small Beginnings...
I enjoyed my niece’s 3rd birthday recently and got the chance to meet some of my brother’s friends over cake and ice cream. We got to talking about writing, publishing and young writers. It was a fabulous afternoon and it got me to thinking about how, regardless of age, it can be truly daunting to explore the hobby of writing. Even before you think of making it a career, just taking up the pen and trying to make yourself vulnerable on paper can be a huge thing for a person to do.
I thought I’d explore some things to consider when thinking about writing for the first time. Here are five areas to consider if you are new to writing.
Keep in mind that, even some of the most renown writers have books that get horrible reviews. Goodreads put out a great infographic from a 2013 study showing why readers put down some of the world’s best known books. The answers? Some says books start too slow, or that the written doesn’t match up with the movie/musical. Some of the classics are considered ‘classic’ from a literary standpoint, not a commercial standpoint. So don’t think that, just because you’re an unknown, that your writing isn’t worthy. And don’t think that, just because another writer is known, that everything they write is good!
If you’ve been toying with the thought of writing for a few months or a few years, it might be part of your destiny to explore it. There is a reason why this idea inside of you just won’t let go. You owe it to yourself to take some time and give it a try. That doesn’t mean you’ll publish it and it doesn’t mean that anyone will ever know. You still owe it to yourself to try.
"Better to have a bad book in the drawer than an empty drawer and that ‘what if’ in your heart the rest of your life."
Maybe it’s not that you’re scared about writing, but about WHAT to write. You know the type of books you love, but aren’t sure if you want to write in that same genre. Feeling unsure is common and every writer comes across ideas that they are not sure of. Every writer runs out of ideas at some point and wonders what to write next. You’re not alone!
If you have loved mystery for a long time but don’t feel you have it in you to create a great written mystery, keep in mind that you’ll have all the experience of what you’ve read to fall back on if you do choose this genre. And if your idea isn't novel length, what's wrong with trying your hand at a novella or short story? Don't worry about length at this point, just embrace the process of creating.
Even if romance seems easier to write (and cash in on) without the knowledge of reading years of romance books, you might write yourself into a corner. Starting with what you yourself love to read can be a much more stable starting point. You’ll already remember what plots didn’t work for you and which ones sucked you right in. Start with that.
Many get flustered when looking at all the different styles and genre's on the shelves. Should I go with first person? How about third person omniscient? What about passive verses active voice? Before you get yourself all overwhelmed, simply start on the story.
Think of how you watch your favorite TV show, you’re ALL time favorite. Think of how you take in every element of setting, clothing, smoldering looks, fantastic explosions, what have you. Come at writing that same way. Start by watching the characters in your head. Watch them interact, watch them move through their world, whether it’s a scenario related to your story or not. Just watch them like you’d watch TV. Take it all in. Turn to your paper after a few of these ‘episodes’ and record what you saw.
Maybe you have the idea, the time, the passion…but in taking up this hobby of writing for the first time, you’re really concerned about being a success. Depending on how you define the success you’re reaching for, you could be putting forth a reasonable goal or setting yourself up for failure.
Expectations can put pressure on you and your work. If you’re expecting all rave reviews from friends, you might be extremely deflated when they are not jumping up and down with excitement. If you expect a book should get hundreds of downloads the first day it’s on Amazon, you might start over scrutinizing your book’s commercial worth before it’s even finished.
Set all that aside and focus on your individual relationship with this idea that will become your book. So what if it’s not the next Great American Novel? The point is to enjoy the experience of writing it.
"Write it for you and don’t write it for anyone else."
Stay true to how you see the story in your head and don’t let the suggestions of others change the plot you’re working on. If this book never gets published or never sells, so what? You wrote it and not many people can say that.
In spite of the hundreds of thousands of books that get published each year, there are ten times as many people who are too afraid to put their idea onto paper. Be one who is brave, no matter how good or bad it is, initially. This first bad book might be what you need to write in order to come up with the next idea that results in a mediocre book that, in turn, gives you the idea years down the road for a really good book.
It’s not a process you can avoid. And once you start on it, it might not be as bad as you imagine! So dig in, relish the experience and don’t worry about how many millions of copies will sell. Honor that this book came to you now to be written as only you can. And enjoy every page as you bring forth a dream from inside of you to share with the world.