It’s been a year since I started trying to write professionally.
I’ve been writing my entire life with many of my jobs requiring writing skills, but never did I attempt to tell my own stories. To get there, I took a writing class with Neil Strauss, wrote a novel, fired out blogs on this website, and dabbled in creative writing.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Ask Yourself Why You Want to Write
Writing isn’t red carpets, interviews, and fame. It’s tiny, dark rooms, wrestling over the perfect words, asking yourself why the fuck you thought writing was a good career choice.
Do you read books? If you answered yes, please proceed. If you don’t read, why do you want to write? Because some marketing guy convinced you that you need a blog and a book to use as a sales funnel for your business? That content all reads the same. Like a textbook from a school of used car salesmen.
2. Accept You Suck (At First)
Doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, a novel, a short story, it will always suck at first. First book. Tenth book. First drafts always stink. Second draft sometimes do, too. It took five drafts for me to finish my first novel. Editing is where writing magic happens. Accept the suck.
3. Take a Writing Class
Learning from a professional in a class setting is essential. Gain knowledge from someone who has done it before… and done it successfully. You’ll grow as a writer. Giving feedback on other writers’ words and having your work critiqued will enhance your editing and storytelling abilities.
Here’s a link to Neil Strauss’s writing class. You don’t have to take his, but I highly recommend it.
Neil Gaiman has a great MasterClass, too.
It’s important to take a class of a writer you admire or respect. You’ll learn more.
4. Get the First Draft Down Before Editing
Every writer does this. Some unlearn it, others torture themselves. Writing this way has a toxic effect on your work. It can make you overwrite/overedit, get bored of your story (since you keep reworking the same chapter), and it WILL make your writing process longer than it should be.
When I use placeholders “Wyatt and Harper enter a fancy restaurant” to keep writing and get down the thoughts. I can add and edit details later.
Resist the temptation. Write it all first. Edit later. Your future self will thank you.
No one can teach you how to write. Your writing ability will go as far as you take it. The magic formula is a simple one. Sit in that chair and bleed out on the page. That’s it. Don’t plot out every detail. Don’t daydream about your story. Just write. Write badly. Just get it down.