You’ve taken your first steps, and you’re writing. Well done! You may have thousands of ideas crowding your waking hours, or you may be quietly focused on constructing your work according to a well-articulated plan in your head. Or you may be somewhere in between. Don’t waste too much energy on wishing you were more focused or organised or creatively unfettered – try to roll with what you have started with, and learn as you go how to make it better. It is what it is, always.
But what is that, exactly? Depending on the scope of your work, you may still have hundreds or thousands of decisions to make as you progress. A very large part of writing is actually problem-solving: if my character does this, then she can’t be where she needs to be for the next crisis; if I use this word here where it’s exactly the right word, it makes the whole sentence sound awkward and unbalanced; where does this bit of backstory go without interrupting the flow? Sometimes the answers are obvious, but often they’re not.
If you can make some of the more strategic decisions early in the development of your work, you can often head off some the issues that create the need for multiple operational decisions later. This section will look at some of the things you might want to consider as you build upon your initial start, and work towards the completion of your first finished draft:
- Finding time to write that works for you and those around you – arguably to most difficult problem to solve.
- Finding a place to write that works for you and those around you – some of the alternatives might surprise you.
- Suffering for your art is one thing, but affecting your health needlessly is another – it is both possible and desirable to look after yourself in your writing practice.
- If you’re using a computer to write rather than a typewriter or a pen, there are several IT considerations you should know about – there’s nothing worse than losing work into which you’ve poured your heart and soul.
- Building and maintaining a timeline – this is to specify the sequence of events in your story, both real and imagined.
- Developing a point of view – this will be the perspective you provide on the story for the reader.
- There are a number of classic forms which have been used over time to provide specific types of narrative – most of these can be applied to virtually any genre.
- While it might seem a remote consideration at this early stage of your writing, as you begin writing, give some thought to developing your voice – concentrate on how you can emerge as a unique and unmistakeable voice.
- Many writers find it helpful to imagine or connect with an ideal reader – someone who best represents the readership you’re trying to reach.
- Finding inspiration and motivation when you’re writing can often be harrowing – finding your muse can help you locate a source of both.
- Engaging the reader in the first pages of your work can mean the difference between being read and not – there are some techniques to help make those initial pages deliver the things that most readers look for.
- Much like a painting, a literary work is framed in several ways – framing means deciding where you put the boundaries between what is in the work and what’s outside.
- Decisions about character development dominate the writing of most genres – the rule of thumb is that you will succeed to the extent that you can bring your characters to life for your readers.
- Writing dialogue should theoretically be as easy as speaking – but there are some things you may not have thought about.
- The manner in which you describe the world inhabited by your characters is often termed ‘atmospherics’ – these describe the sounds, smells, colours, tastes, sensations and sights which surround your characters and represent the physical attributes of their world.
- Rhyme and meter refer to architectural elements of poetry – this section will help you understand their basic forms and how they impact your poetic voice.
- There are literally hundreds of literary devices you can use to produce specific effects within your work – this section explains a few of the most common ones.
- Maintaining motivation so that you can continue to make progress with your work – everyone flags a little now and then.
- Even with the best motivation, all writers occasionally have trouble with getting stuck – this section looks at the common problems which can result in a (hopefully) temporary halt to progress.
- Some writers find finishing a problem, particularly if there is no ending planned – this section provides some useful tips for finalising your work.
This part of the writing journey is usually the longest and requires the most work. It calls for you to devote your time and your energy to your project, sometimes sacrificing your comfort, sleep, leisure activities, your ability to hang out with family and friends. But this is also the most creative part, and for those who write to give an outlet to their personal creative imperative, this is the part of writing that often unleashes the sheer joy of being a writer.
If you find that the material presented doesn’t quite answer your question, ask a writer.
If you find you need additional help with maintaining focus and motivation, ask a coach.
Finally, we’ve also collected a number of other helpful links which you might find useful to access.