In early 2010, I started writing my first book ever. I wanted it to be perfect, and I knew it was golden right off the bat. As the initial excitement of the journey wore off, the dread of failure set in. I would try to reinvigorate my drive by skipping to scenes I was excited about. This ended up being one of the worst things I could have done. The moment I finished those scenes, I instantly lost my drive. Pretty soon I had a collection of scenes that didn’t connect anywhere, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t connect them.
It was HEARTBREAKING. Months would pass, and I hadn’t written a single word.
When I moved to a new state, I revised my original story and started again. This time I would be successful. I got the first few pages done, then stopped. I didn’t know how to continue, so I skipped to another section and started writing again. I’d made the exact same mistake twice now and had spent two years working on a story that didn’t connect anywhere. I felt like such a failure. What kind of writer spends two years on a project and doesn’t even come close to finishing it? Out of sheer desperation, I started a new story completely unrelated to the previous one. It took six years, but that book is now published. So what changed?
If your story even vaguely resembles mine where you can’t seem to write what you love, then this course is for you. Even if you have NO IDEA what to write, we will be covering in exact detail ways to cut through the tension of writing your first book AND covering how to start your story in a way readers will LOVE.
I need to have everything planned before they even start writing. Outlines, character creation sheets, complete world building, etc. This is one of the worst traps you can fall into. While all these things aren’t inherently bad, they can prevent you from doing the best thing with your time: WRITING.
It has to be perfect. WRONG. One of the biggest reasons my first story flopped was because I was trying to make it perfect on the first draft. I wanted to be hailed as the youngest novelist in history and blow professionals away with my natural talent (I know, how arrogant can a girl get?). Truth is, the idea of perfection is paralyzing. If that’s your starting objective then there’s no way you’ll ever get over the fear and actually write.
My idea isn’t good enough. Not to blow sunshine up your butt, but it is if you’re passionate about it. Just because the people around you might not like it doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for it. If you go into a library or even do an Amazon search, you’ll see there are THOUSANDS of different genres and dozens of authors in each of those genres that are best-sellers. So yes, your idea is good enough.
I have a hard time writing, so I’m not a writer. If a football player found practice to be difficult, does that make them not a good player? I’m not a sports expert, but I think the point of practice is that it’s supposed to be hard. Writing is the same way. It isn’t always easy, you are not always able to write 90 words a minute. I am a slow writer, It typically takes me almost an hour to write ONE page, that doesn’t mean I’m a poor writer, it just means I type slow and get distracted.
I’m not a good writer so I can’t write professionally. Okay, if your shoes aren't polished can you not wear them? Of course you can! One of my favorite things I’ve learned from writing is how beautiful editing is. I write a lot of garbage before I publish. Writing is a messy process, a lot like cleaning under your bed. When you expose old socks and forgotten memories you make the rest of your room “messy.” Editing is throwing out the crumpled trash and donating the old toys and before you know it, your room is cleaner than it's ever been, or in this case your book is a better version of what you always dreamed it would be.
Top 5 pro tips:
Mentality is EVERYTHING
Before you even start writing there’s something we need to discuss first, and it’s not the weather. It’s your mental prowess. EVERY author has gone through their own personal refining forge in their craft. I know I sure have. Being an author isn’t just throwing some words on a page and collecting the benjamins. It is intensely personal and challenging. I’ve had days where I’ve felt unstoppable...and I’ve had days I wish I could forget because of the darkness they hold.
Having the right mentality will help you get through struggles like writer's block, harsh feedback, and will even help you write BETTER.
Your mindset can set you up for success or failure as an author. If you have a negative mindset before you’ve even attempted writing it will destroy your craft. That doesn’t mean if you struggle with depression your toast and should give up now. Just the opposite. Writing can be a tremendously powerful release for people who struggle with mental imbalances, disabilities or heartache.
From regular exercise plans, to sleeping and eating, to focusing on one problem at a time, there are dozens of ways to improve your mental health. A few of my favorites are:
Surrounding yourself with good people:
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of toxicity in the world. There simply isn’t room for it in your writing. If you plan to publish, you’ll have enough internal and external struggles on your own that you don’t need to waste your time with people who don’t support you, even less so with people who degrade you. I will not cover how to remove toxic people in your life in this book, as it is a topic that varies with each situation and has dozens of different approaches, but suffice it to say if there are people in your life who don’t treat you with respect, cut them out.
Actively seek people who build you up and who you feel comfortable talking about your book with. I HIGHLY encourage all beginning authors to join a writing group on social media, or (even better) in person. This surrounds you with people who know what you are going through and can offer tremendous advice. I joined a local writing group about six months to a year after I first started “The Ajoiner Realm”. We met bi-weekly at each other’s homes and took turns reading and discussing our current projects. That experience single handedly TRIPLED my writing expertise and taught me how to open up to criticism and how to give criticism without being rude.
Having affirmation note cards:
This one is especially great when you read them EVERY DAY, out loud. Write something you wish someone would say about you or your writing and tell it to yourself EVERY DAY. If that seems too daunting then write something you’d tell your favorite author and use that EVERY DAY instead.
A lot of times it will be really hard to read these to yourself out loud, but trust me the more you practice this the stronger your mind will feel and the more you will begin to believe in yourself.
I LOVE setting stuff on fire—there; I admitted it. Write any negative thoughts that enter your head and burn it. As it shrivels to blackness: let go. Any self deprecating image of yourself will not help you on your way, so break out the matches and send it back to hell where it belongs.
Creating a Vision board
Not only is this super fun, but it’s super effective. Take a few minutes to make a poster for yourself with all of your dreams and inspirations on it. Keep it posted somewhere where you can see it. This helps remind you what you are working towards and helps motivate you to write when you don’t feel like writing.
Listening to inspiring music/messages
This one is a no brainer. When you listen to things that make you feel good you are happier. If the music you listen to has lyrics jot down your favorite lines and add them to your workspace.
Setting a realistic schedule and goals
This one may be a surprise, but is incredibly powerful. Take it from a ADHD whacko, setting a schedule is a MUST! Nothing is more discouraging than having a massive to-do list and not achieving anything on it because you didn’t know where to start. Set aside time for family, exercise, mental breaks, and rewards. Being a writer can lead to locking yourself in your office for hours at a time and neglecting the things that matter. Having realistic goals helps with this.
When I published my first book, I set some rather ambitious goals that in hindsight probably hurt more than they helped. Because I was so stressed about meeting my goals, I ended up neglecting a lot of my home responsibilities. Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband who picked up the slack, but I wish I hadn’t put our marriage through that. So when you are ready to write, be sure to learn where your limits are and set goals within those limits. In time you’ll grow and be able to take on more tasks, but to start within your limits.
This one catches people off guard all the time. Regularly and frequently expressing gratitude is a major game changer. One of my favorite characters in the Marvel universe is Louis in “Antman” during a conversation with Scott Lang he casually rattles off a list of things that went horribly wrong just to follow it up with an enthusiastic statement about getting a van he wanted. We all have things in our lives that SUCK focusing on them gets us nowhere, so whether you make a goal to post on social media once a week or keep a gratitude journal, be sure to keep track of the good in your life.
How to overcome fear of writing
This is a tricky one. Saying “just write” won’t help anymore than mindless encouragement. So here’s what needs to happen: Why are you afraid to write? You have to understand why you are afraid to understand how to stop feeling anxiety. You don’t have to accept that you are going to always be afraid, you can change your fear. Rejection, imperfection, inability, inability to open up, and not knowing what to do are all common reasons people never end up behind a keyboard.
Before I get into more specific remedies for these phobias, I’ll share a story. The summer after my husband and I started dating, we had a wonderful opportunity to hike one of Arizona’s many beautiful canyons. We met early in the morning with a group of about ten of our friends and drove out to the desert. It took about an hour just to reach the canyon from the parking lot, at which point it was just starting to get truly hot. So when we splashed down into the creek running through the canyon, we were all thoroughly excited. There are several wonderful and terrifying stories I can share about this trip, but the one I’ll be focusing on happened towards the end of the canyon.
After about two hours in the canyon's bottom we came to a cliff. A deep pool of water waited nearly twenty feet below us to continue. There was a portion of rock that extended into the pool directly below the cliff we stood on, so the only way to safely enter the water below was to leap out from the cliff into the middle of the pool. Some in our group were ecstatic to leap over the edge into the pool, others of us not so much.
I have very short legs and anyone who has played sports with me can tell you I am 1) clumsy, and 2) not very good at jumping. My heart pounded at the thought of jumping from the damp stone beneath me to the pool below. When my turn came I locked eyes with my then boyfriend who was waiting in the water below. Even though my mind screamed I jumped. I thought I was going to die, but as I uncurled my limbs below the water and realized I wasn’t hurt I returned to the surface and joined my friends. There was, however, one of our friends who had not jumped yet. He was one of the better hikers and had reached the cliff before me. He’d let everyone else continue onward while he stared over the edge at the dark water in fear. Only one of our friends was up there with him.
When the time came for him to jump, he couldn’t. He was so petrified he sat on the edge shaking and crying. Despite our encouragement and success, he still couldn’t make the jump. If you’ve never seen a canyon like the ones in Arizona and southern Utah, you should know climbing out along the side isn’t possible. The rivers have worn down sandstone walls, leaving the surface too smooth and too tall to climb without gear. For half an hour we called up to him and tried to find a way to get to him. With some tender encouragement and patience from the one friend who was still with him, he finally jumped and we all made it safely home.
The reason I tell this story is that there are several key lessons that apply to overcoming our fears. I was terrified to jump, but knowing there wasn’t any other way down and seeing the love of my life waiting for me convinced me to leave the safety of the cliff and press forward. Another lesson is that staring into the maw of fear only gives it greater strength. The phrase “anything worth doing isn’t easy” is absolutely true and applies to writing just as much as it does to anything else. So keep my experience in mind as you press forward. You can stare at your dreams until they turn to nightmares, or you can leap feet first into them.
OK, long story, but onto specifics now.
Ghostwriting, Writing prompts, Journaling, Short stories, etc.
You got me. It might take longer than a day to get started on your dream book, but I can promise that trying one of these will get you writing now. If you’re not ready to start your dream book, don’t sweat it. There are lots of other opportunities for you to develop your skill and confidence.
I personally haven’t ever done ghostwriting, but I know fiverr is a source for finding contracts. Keep in mind, any ghostwriting you do will come with a contract, be sure you understand all the rules and your rights before you sign anything.
Another way to get into writing is to look up story prompts online and use those to get you started. Again, just like ghostwriting, be sure that you can use the prompt and that you won't be stealing someone’s content.
Journaling is a fabulous way to get into writing more emotional content. Since it’s your and yours alone, you can go nuts and not worry about any writing rules. I highly encourage keeping a journal for this reason. Write whatever you want in your journal and if you get an idea that you’re dying to write, then that’s a plus.
Short stories are a great way to refine skills as a writer by forcing yourself to compress your thoughts into fewer words. It also can do the opposite if writing hundreds of pages is too daunting, then start with just three. This is actually how “The Ajoiner Realm” came into existence. I didn’t know what to write and writing a long story was overwhelming, so I started a short story about the classic good vs evil conflict and it grew into something phenomenal.
Where to start (Plotter) vs (Pantser)
The key to starting your book is knowing what kind of writer you are. Are you someone who prefers a detailed plan of what is going to happen? Are you someone who likes to jump in and see where things go? A bit of both? If you’re someone who likes outlines and plans jumping right in won't work, and the same is true if you're someone who’d rather let the words fly free if you try to sit down with an outline.
If you prefer outlining first here is a short and simple outline to get you started.
Who is your main character (MC)?
Mental attitude, behaviors, alignment
Quirks, habits, hobbies, skills
What does MC want? (Short term and Long term) Freedom, safety, success, progress, preservation, individuality, community, privacy, transparency, vengeance, etc.
What is stopping them from achieving their goal? (Short term and Long term) What did they not count on/what didn’t work? Additional characters interfering, too weak, lies, truths, the enemy was prepared for them.
How do they overcome said obstacle? Deal with sub-character conflict, train to get stronger/find a power source, find out the truth, accept the truth, retreat and regroup.
Repeat. Each repetition can be as short or as long as it is needed to be.
Satisfactory climax “Final battle” does not necessarily have to be a fight, but if you’ve built up towards one and it doesn’t happen the alternative MUST be just as intense.
Resolution Battle is won or lost, what happens as a result, if a second book is planned, start gearing that direction.
While this outline is tailored towards the protagonist, sometimes writing an outline from the villain's point of view can generate a more real antagonist thus making the story more vivid. I recommend writing one for both.
For those who prefer a more freestyle approach, keep in mind that this is your first DRAFT, it will be messy! Keep writing without backtracking as much as possible. It’s helpful to have a notes tab open while you work, so when you encounter something that will need work you can jot down a memo there and keep writing rather than completely breaking the flow and going back.
The Law is the Law until it Isn’t
Pretty much all great writers break the “rules” at some point or another. I have several times within this short book. HOWEVER, that’s because I learned the rules. One of my favorite classes in college was English101. It wasn’t a particularly hard class since I had been writing during my free time throughout highschool, but Professor Kirkham was FABULOUS. She taught me more about writing and life than all four years of highschool. One of her best lectures covered why there are rules to writing. Sometimes it can seem like formatting, grammar, and spelling can be hindrances to the process. The human brain is capable of filling in missing details so well that there are dozens of t-shirts that make a mockery of the brain’s amazing processing power.
Example: “You are wonbering why you are still this reading this” has two critical errors in it, but your brain might have missed one or both and if you didn’t 1) congratulations! You’ve got a great mind for catching errors, and 2) you understood what it meant.
So if our brains are so smart, why does it matter if we spell check, have proper punctuation, or follow a uniform formatting system? Because even though we can understand doesn’t mean we like it. We like when the puzzle we are solving is the story, not the words telling them.
Before you can break the rules, you MUST understand and be proficient at following them first. Notice how I didn’t say perfect, that was on purpose. Perfection is overrated and terrifying, just get to a point where you understand how to do something so that when you don’t follow the rule, you can explain why.
Keep a reference book
I’ve been writing for years now, when I send my drafts out for beta reads and proof reads I still make mistakes. When I’m reviewing the feedback sometimes I scratch my head wondering what in the world they’re talking about, until I grab my handbook (The same one I used in English-101—seriously, I loved that class) and realize I totally dun-goofed.
A bonus to keeping a handbook around is being able to brush up on topics at any given time. I keep a binder with notes from all the classes I’ve taken on writing, formatting and publishing and it has saved me a lot of trouble dozens of times over.
Read everything. Even if you don’t like a particular form of writing or genre, it is invaluable to learn more about all forms of writing. A perfect comparison point comes from my experience working as a massage therapist. During school I was taught a variety of modalities, or types of massage. I learned how to perform everything from Swedish to structural massage. When I graduated I took pieces of every modality I learned and put them into my own craft. Even though I typically favor trigger-point and deep tissue work, I still use techniques I learned with energy modalities as well.
Back in the context of writing, reading various types of writing and genres will teach you things you won't learn anywhere else. Once you’ve read a bit of different styles, try mimicking it for yourself. I fell into the trap of thinking, “I know what I like to write so I don’t need to write anything else.” That was an obvious no-no. One of the most amazing things about writing different styles is learning how to improve your skills. I am rubbish at writing poetry, but I learned boat loads about improving my metaphors and flow from writing it.
How to start
Okay now that you have the right mentality and know how to overcome your fears there’s still one tiny problem. How to actually start writing. This trips up so many authors it’s amazing. Even in my own case when I first started writing, I had no idea how to properly start a story. I rewrote the beginning of “The Ajoiner Realm” several times before landing the perfect sweet spot. The trick is to start both in the middle and the beginning. It’s a lot less complicated than it sounds. In a great piece of writing, the main character’s life doesn’t start on the first page or in the first word. Rather, the life they knew until that point is about writing,change.
JK Rowling does this with “Harry Potter” when Harry receives letters from Hogwarts. Brandon Sanderson does this with “Mistborn” when Vin’s life as a thief is forever changed by Kelsier. Susan Collins in “The Hunger Games” when Katnss volunteered herself to save her sister. Stephanie Myers in “Twilight” with Bella moving to a new state. “Star Wars episode IV” Leia is captured by Darth Vader and Luke finds R2-D2 and C3PO. Most superhero movies, the moment(s) leading up to the hero getting their new super power. The same can be said for a lot of YA modern fantasy, typically the story starts just before the young protagonist learns about the “magic” world.
You get the picture. Imagine the moment everything changes for your protagonist, you can start with that exact moment or backtrack just a hair to give your readers a little of footing before the big plunge.
The first sentence:
Set the scene, the stakes, introduce the MC, grab your reader’s attention.
The easiest way to figure this out is by thinking about where the story starts. It seems so obvious it's a little confusing. A bit of an explanation for that is to take that idea and follow it to its origin. This doesn’t have to mean starting with the birth of your MC. What this means is wherever your MC starts their journey that’s where you want to start writing. With “The Ajoiner Realm” we start the series off with Warren learning about the existence of the beacon. Starting before that would dally on too much, starting after that gets too confusing. So find your sweet spot where things make enough sense to get a grip on the book, but not so late that there are too many pieces missing.
If you’re a little unsure still here’s the introduction of “The Ajoiner Realm”:
“Warren stood on the battle-scarred streets of Fortitude, wiping blood from his sword. He stared at the blade in his hand. The pommel no longer glimmered, the leather grip worn and stained, the blade scratched by war. How many more years would he spend like this? He had little time to rest before a shriek echoed a few streets away. His eyes flicked open, and his thick muscles coiled. The western district again.
Warren charged through the alleyway toward the commotion. Following a wet trail of blood and broken cobblestone, he tracked the outburst to a decrepit home near the edge of the city. Half a plank of oak swung from the hinges of the obliterated door. Drawing his blade, Warren shouldered into the house.
Four creatures in the center of the room stood over a dead woman. They were the same type of beasts he had slayed in the streets only minutes earlier: Drevics. The monstrosities had four arms and two sets of dark horns protruding from their eye sockets. They were nearly translucent, exposing dark veins along their bodies, loosely protected by barbaric black armor. Their arms and lipless mouths were perpetually stained with blood.
“Hey!” Warren shouted. They swiveled, licking their teeth.
The closest launched itself at him using its four arms, but Warren’s blade cleaved through both the hardened armor and flesh of the creature with little effort. Shrieking, the others swarmed Warren; their veins visibly pulsed through their translucent flesh.
With three more strokes, Warren felled the beasts as easily as if they had been dandelions. He sliced his blade through the air, sending a chunk of black ooze flying before properly cleaning the blade and sheathing it.
Warren knelt next to the dead woman and sighed with frustration. Her dark brown eyes stared unseeing at the ceiling, her blood staining the burlap rug. Out of respect for the dead, he closed her eyelids. Emptiness tore him apart. What am I fighting for? Against an innumerable host of evil, what could one man do?”
Within the first sentence we know the MC’s name, where he is, and that this is likely fantasy seeing he has a sword. By stating that he’s cleaning blood from the blade there is also a sense of intrigue created for the reader making them wonder who’s blood and why are the streets battle-scarred?
Reading further confirms the idea that the story is fantasy and lays the groundwork for the readers to understand that there are monsters about and Warren is alone in fighting them. Also, by mentioning that he’s been fighting for so long, there’s a sense that the story didn’t appear out of nowhere. When we read Warren’s heartbreak at realizing he was too late, we develop an emotional attachment to him and feel his despair as he wonders what more he could do.
We have a solid hook, setting, a character, development of the plot, and emotional ties. All things that make a powerful first impression on readers.
I’ve advised you on several good ways with where to start and in the next section we’ll cover some great examples of HOW to make an entrance, but the most important thing is that you start. If you start with an info-dump that’s fine, if you start with your character waking up, that’s fine, if you start a little early or a little late in your story that’s fine. It’s ALL FINE. The worst thing to do right now is getting so caught up in doing it right that you don’t do it at all. In the case of writing the phrase “if you don’t do it right then don’t do it at all” does not apply. You can go back and fix the introduction later. You will go back and fix the introduction later, even if you followed all the rules. So more than any advice I give, be sure you start writing wherever and however you feel you need to.
Making an entrance
I usually recommend honing this after you’ve at least gotten the first draft down, as the actual start of your book may vary slightly once you’re ready to rewrite, but it is an important introductory detail. Your first line is your fattest juiciest worm strung up on a barbed hook that readers are going to bite onto and not want to release. I’ve already shared my opening scene, but I find having multiple examples helps in showing the variety of ways to effectively start a story.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hold, and that means comfort.” — J. R.R. Tolkin, The Hobbit (1937)
"The Tesseract has awakened. It is on a little world, a human world." — Joss Wheden, The Avengers (2012)
"Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." — Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
The first sentence doesn’t have to shock the reader—though in most cases today they do. Look at the first line of Tolkin's “The Hobbit”. It has a very appealing nature to it and draws the reader in with serenity. This is very difficult to achieve in today's fast-paced society, but when done well can have a tremendous impact.
While, yes, line two is from a movie it’s execution of storytelling prowess warrants being discussed. Joss Wheden's “The Avengers”, drops the viewer right into the thick of things. It evokes questions, what is the Tesseract? Who is speaking? It also evokes a sense of smallness as a human since it is clear that the line is delivered by something that perceives the human world—our world—as small. Last I checked several billion people and millions of uncharted miles of land and ocean wasn't something any of us would consider small, so when the line "a little world" is spoken there is a sense of something huge coming this way.
Last, is Charles Dickens's “David Copperfield”. Opening the scene with a philosophical view can lock in readers who love mind games. One thing that Charles Dickens does incredibly well is present it in a way that isn't overwhelming. It evokes thought from the reader, and desire to know who the hero of the speaker's life will be.
While all the techniques and hacks I shared are great, most of them can be ignored if they stop you from writing. The exception to this is the mindset hack, that one will always benefit you no matter where you are in life.
I get asked all the time what I do when I get stuck. So here’s my foolproof strategy for getting unstuck:
Lack of motivation
My most frequent block is not feeling motivated to write. Even when the part of the book I’m working on is super exciting and I know what to do, sometimes I just don’t feel like writing. The trick to getting over this is to just write for ten-fifteen minutes. If by the end of my time frame I still don’t feel like writing I’ll stop, but more often than not I get back in the mood.
We all run dry at some point or another. The best way to deal with not having any ideas is to take a break. I like to go outside and walk for a while. I always encourage going outside since writing is typically an indoor career and can leave you cooped up for too long.
Another solution can be reading. By getting out of your head for a while, you can separate yourself from the problem and come back with fresh eyes. The great thing about reading is you can look for solutions in other works to help you solve your own conundrum. Whether it's a favorite or something new, reading something that isn’t yours is bound to spark an idea or two.
I ran into this with a couple of my Defenders of Radiance characters. For the most part my crew were very proactive, and I didn’t have to think too hard about what they wanted/needed chapter by chapter. But that wasn’t always the case. I remember a chapter in “The Ajoiner Realm” that had me stumped for days! One of my MC’s was traveling to a humanoid camp. The journey took several days, and I knew some trip needed to be documented, but I didn't know how to fill the time. My MC reminded me she had throwing knives, and for the longest time I had no idea what that meant. Then it dawned on me. She was hungry. She didn’t have any rations left and needed food. So when you come to a point where you’re not sure what happens next, figure out what your character needs in the moment.
Plot holes are a pain to work through. I rarely have this problem until the rewrite stage, but occasionally it has come up earlier. The difficult thing about giving advice on fixing plot problems is that each problem is so unique it's difficult to address all the ways to fix it.
But that doesn’t make it impossible. I have always confided in one of my brothers about my story, and I’d bounce ideas off him on how to fix issues with my book. He’s not a writer, but we are very close and I trust him with my ideas. If I had a nickel for all the times he helped me out of a rut...well, I wouldn’t need to write for my money.
What if I don’t have someone like that in my life? I get that not everyone has people they can trust in their lives and my heart goes out to you. The situation isn’t hopeless though. You can use the rubber duck technique if your confidante isn’t available, or you don’t have one. Basically, the theory is this. Try explaining the situation to a rubber duck and verbalize your thoughts and ideas to it. As you talk through the problem, you’ll find a solution. You don't have to use a literal rubber duck, you can do this just by talking out loud, talking to a pet, a rock, anything as long as you are verbally explaining things.
I cannot say enough good things about the Facebook groups I’ve been a part of throughout the last 6 years. Literally anytime I had a question about anything, I’ve asked the group and gotten great feedback and solutions I would have never thought of on my own. There isn’t a better place to talk about writer’s depression, story problems, hard/sad/ funny things that only other writers seem to truly get then with actual writers.
That’s great, BUT I’m worried someone will steal my ideas. Here’s the deal, most groups have rules prohibiting this, nor will anyone tolerate anyone who does. A perfect example of this was an ad I saw the other day promoting a webnovel that used an image from another source. The comment section looked like a slice of Hell. The story itself wasn’t particularly well written and because it used a stolen image commenters were absolutely vicious. Creators support each other, even if they’ve never met. That’s the beauty of being in a community full of writers and artists: we all have our own projects we’re so busy with we would never even dream of stealing from someone else and as a general population we hate thieves.
Writing groups are also great for finding the best bang for your buck. More often than not members can direct you to awesome resources for research, can get you access to reputable editors, cover designers, agents, and publishers (A topic for another day: not all people who claim to be editors, agents or publishers are created equal), epic writing classes that are either a) worth the money, or b) inexpensive/free but educational.
On the topic of writing classes, I HIGHLY encourage taking as many as you can! I am not the end all be all of writing, so don’t draw the line after this book thinking you know everything you need to know for the rest of your writing career. One of my favorite books on writings called “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman. It’s fantastic for developing writing skills and at the end of each chapter offers a “try this” exercise to help you learn how to be a more compelling author.
My last note to anyone who still feels overwhelmed by the idea of writing is this: take a breath. Release it. Feel the story dripping from your lips and hold on to that desire. More than having a good mentality, knowing how to write an outline, or having a good story idea is the passion to write.
There will be days where you won't write, and that’s okay, so long as the desire is there that is enough. If you don’t know what to write yet, write about what makes your heart pump. Whatever inspires you, hold on to it. Maybe you’ll write fanfic, maybe you’ll write autobiographies, maybe you’ll write sub-genres, whatever it is that interests you start there and you’ll find your passion.
For me it was fantasy. It took a while to figure out exactly what the story in my head was, I didn’t even know the entire story until four years into “The Ajoiner Realm.” I stuck with it and regardless of how it sells on Amazon or through my website, I’m proud of the accomplishment of having completed my first book ever.
That’s the thing about following your passion. When you truly care about what you write and want it to be its best, you’ll find a way to keep writing and keep chasing it. Hopefully, I was able to help in even the smallest degree and I’m looking forward to sharing the next steps of making a EPIC story with you soon!