The most challenging part of almost anything is to start. Do you always tell yourself that you’d like to start writing, but after a minute or two of staring on a blank page, you begin browsing and spend most of your time on the latter than the first? Well, you are not alone on that. Even writers fall into the same pit. One writer wrote something along the lines of ~ spending all day procrastinating instead of writing, just like all writers do. So you need not fret if this happened to you in the past. What’s important is for you to look forward to writing your words down into the paper.
I got some tips here for you, and guess what? They are not new, but they helped me a ton, and I’m pretty sure you could use some of them too.
1. Build a Routine
Some writers follow a rigorous routine, and one is Haruki Murakami, who starts his day at 4 am, writes for 5 to 6 hours, and does a 10k run in the afternoon. Then he reads and listens to some music before he is off to bed at 9 pm. It takes effort and discipline to follow such a routine but look how successful Murakami is.
In my case, I don’t write for a living. I have a full-time job (that supports my blog and other hobbies), so writing is not my priority. I could not just wake up at 4 am and start typing down stories just like Murakami. I only write when I have time and energy after work.
Usually, I will write my stories or blog posts after dinner or as soon as I wake up on my off days, armed with a cup of coffee. But sometimes, in the evenings, I am too exhausted to write, so I don’t force myself.
So, where’s the routine here?
Even though I miss writing stories or blog posts, I don’t miss writing in my journal. Once I retire to my room, I’ll pick it up and do a recap of my day. Sometimes, I’d write several pages of how my day went by; other times, one sentence if I am too tired.
Believe it or not, I’d always start my journal entries with how I started my day, like: It’s tough to wake up today, or I couldn’t sleep last night, or I woke up before my alarm.
Then on and on it goes about how I felt about my colleagues, about how someone said something that hurt me or made me happy, about how spicy the food was for lunch, how clear or murky the water was when I went for a swim and how my left leg cramped during my swim.
I could not believe how I could write endlessly about my day. Sometimes when the lights are already off, I would suddenly remember something, and I would get up and jot the memory down.
I may miss all the other writing exercises, but I need to reflect on my day no matter how late it is.
So if you are struggling to write because you feel that you don’t have enough time, give yourself at least 15 minutes before you sleep or when you wake up. Set a timer if that helps. Write anything that comes into your mind. Don’t think about the grammar or the spelling.
Establish a daily routine, and once you get used to it, you’ll see that your hands will automatically pick up the pen and write for you.
2. Take Baby Steps
The dream is always: to publish a book or join NANOWRIMO and write a 50k word novel and publish it.
The good part of this dream is you have a goal, and you are off to a good start. The not-so-good part is, wanting to write a novel immediately is a huge task. Novel writing is not for everyone. At least, not when you are just starting.
Taking small steps like writing personal journals, essays, or short stories first helps exercise your brain muscles and prepares you for a more significant challenge: writing a novel (if that’s what you want to achieve).
Take the baby steps, keep writing and follow the routine that you have established and you’ll see the results.
3. Read. Read. Read.
You can’t be a writer if you are not a voracious reader ~ said so many writers. Reading has so many benefits. It increases your vocabulary. It feeds you a lot of information. It inspires and motivates you. It takes you to places you’d never been.
Sometimes when I could not figure out what story I shall write, I’ll check several sites to read short stories to get some inspiration.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Mess Up.
Many drafts on my laptop did not see the light of the day anymore because I don’t think they are good enough to be published. But that’s okay. If you know that your draft is messed up, it means you’re learning and improving because you can already identify what’s good and bad writing.
5. Always Carry a Notebook and Pen
Some ideas pop out of my head randomly. Sometimes while I’m working, walking around, eating, and while on my bed staring at the ceiling. So it’s essential to have a notebook and pen to write down my thoughts before they could disappear into oblivion.
6. Write. Write. Write.
Stop the wishful thinking. Stop telling yourself that you are going to write soon. Start writing. Keep writing.
Some people need inspiration, such as writing prompts to motivate them to write. Since sharing is caring (so cliché, LOL), I will leave great resources to find inspiration if you feel that you don’t have enough topics to write about. (No paid promotions or sponsorships here, okay?)
Reedsy is where I get my weekly short story prompts. Every week they publish a new theme, and each theme has five different prompts. Five is a lot. But these prompts are primarily for short story writing, so fiction writers, Reedsy is a treasure chest. And if your story is outstanding enough to be chosen as the weekly winner, you get $50.
Reedsy also offers a lot of FREE writing courses. From character-building to plot outlining to novel writing, name it, it’s there. And it’s FREE.
Find Your Voice
Find Your Voice sends out a writing prompt every Monday and all you have to do is subscribe. These prompts can help you start if you are still struggling with writing topics.
LITHUB is a library. Short stories. Novel excerpts. Essays. Everything about literature.
This site is a daily dose of short fiction where you can also submit entries.
Hannah posts lots of life and writing advice. She sends out inspiring newsletters every Monday.
I’d rather see you reading than watching videos on youtube. However, I like to share Shaelin’s youtube channel because, among all the writing tutorials I’ve seen, Shaelin’s style is my favorite. I like her delivery. She’s pretty direct to the point, and I always get something from her at the end of every video.
So there you go! I hope you learned a thing or two from my tips. And if you ever started that writing and you’d like to share your thoughts on me, you know how you’ll reach me. I’d love to hear from you.
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