Absolute Beginners (With nothing much at stake)

But we’re absolute beginners

If you’re entertaining the idea of writing, I guess you have many questions. You very likely did some research and asked around. You might’ve peeked into some social media, and found some (read: tons of) advice. What kind of advice are you getting? What can you do with it?

With eyes completely open

In recent weeks, I’ve seen so many messages from aspiring writers (both young and no so much), expressing their desire to write. These messages ended with the question – “how do I start?” How, indeed… these were answered quickly with a stream of very encouraging feedback, in the form of “Just write!”

excuse my sarcasm but… well… duh… I’d like to offer a question, in response to the aspiring writer’s one – what would you like to write? Do you want to write fiction? non-fiction? long form or short? perhaps a memoir? Writing is writing, but each form of writing might (make that – should) spark a wide variety of advice.

True. Each of these types of writing involve the inherent necessity to sit and type/write words. In and of itself, the advice is good. The habit of writing – anything – is a positive. But, as someone who’ve been in that position of a person with ideas about writing, I always wanted something more concrete.

But nervous all the same

When it comes to getting started with writing, I guess my first recommendation would be reading. Ask yourself what is it that I find appealing about the idea of writing. Is it a specific form or genre? Pick up some books of that genre and read. Ask yourself what is it about these books that makes them enjoyable (I promise, down the line you’d be able to explain it in great detail).

Do NOT ask yourself, at this stage – “can I write something like that?”

First, you may not like your own answer. Second, you should not trust that reply. Of course you can. Don’t even start thinking about whether you should try. This is part of the writing journey, and you haven’t yet gotten on the main road.

You have the desire to write. You wouldn’t have reached out for help if you didn’t. The spark is there and you must have some fuel to burn. In that context, I’d advise you to… Just start writing.

But… but… but you just said, that I need more concrete advice…

Of course, let me make some suggestions. I have zero experience with non-fiction writing, so I’ll refer to fiction.

Nothing much could happen
Nothing we can’t shake
Oh, we’re absolute beginners
With nothing much at stake

I assume that you have some ideas about what a story is made of. You do know that a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. You’re well aware that there are characters in the story and that they do things, interact with their surroundings and often with each other.

Why not try a short story? You must have an idea or two bumping around in your brain. Even if the idea is a five books saga, spanning millenniums, can you take a small chunk of it and try to write it down? Don’t worry, you don’t need to show this to anyone. Not yet.

When you sit down to write it, note the things you find the most difficult to do. Is it dialogue? Is it exposition? Is it settings?

It is not all bad! Do not let that devil on your shoulder tell you it’s garbage. Surely, what you write this way, is not something you’d slap into a book and start marketing. We’re far from that point (though you’re definitely on that track), but if you can connect some coherent sentences, that tell a reader (at this point only you) something, then it can’t be all bad.

What is the point of this? The point is to get your writing juices going. Another purpose is, to help you figure out what you need help with. The term “writing” is way too wide to help with, but by starting to write with some purpose, you might identify some areas that will focus your search for help. You need help, we all do. It can save time and frustration, to narrow it down some, and while you’re at it, guess what – you’re already taking a very important step – you’ve started writing!

If you do that. Write, that is, then let me congratulate you – you’re a writer!

There are many more steps before you become an author, but I don’t know of any author who isn’t a writer first.

  • What do you find difficult about writing?
  • What is your greatest fear about writing?
  • What advice are you getting that you don’t understand?

Let me know.

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