Yesterday, I took a walk through my favorite park- the park my parents have taken me to since I was a small child. I’ve walked through this gorgeous tree-peppered park about a thousand times. Every river, rock-laden path, golden field, tree tattooed with random initials I thought I knew like the back of my hand. After all, twenty-seven years should grant a girl the confidence of being an expert on her childhood park.
But yesterday, everything changed. I discovered something brand new, and it blew me away. What did I discover? And why did I discover it just now? Why didn’t I discover it, say, fifteen years ago? Well, stay tuned for the answers, friend.
For now, I want you to think about your life in a similar light. You’ve walked the same paths a thousand times over. Your daily routine, your schedule- it’s all been one reliable beat- no surprises (or at least, you hope for none). So why are you here, reading this post right now?
Something drew you to this page. Something inside you is yearning for a change in the status quo, some little voice inside is crying out. So what is it crying out for?
Humans are in a constant state of change no matter how much we ignore it or don’t see it. It’s only when that little voice inside becomes so overwhelmingly loud that you finally realize you need a change- a revolution within. You wish to branch out into uncharted territory and discover a new aspect of yourself.
Can I be a writer?
How do I even begin this journey?
I don’t know how to write- heck I can’t even put a grocery list together that isn’t riddled with spelling errors- but I really want to try.
I want to discover myself, I want to figure out life through the worlds and characters I’m itching to create.
But what if my stories aren’t that great? Besides, I have no idea what proper technique is, or what it takes to write a character arc or any of that stuff- so can I still be a decent writer?
I want to try. I’ve had this yearning that won’t go away and I just can’t ignore it anymore. I may not be the next Neil Gaiman or Rainbow Rowell, but hey, one step at a time- right?
Right. Exactly right.
You do have what it takes to be a writer. You have the urge, the desire to make sense of life through the stories you want to tell. And that is all it takes to begin your journey of personal discovery through writing.
Your desire alone and your inner voice is telling you that this path is the right one to take, even if you’ve never walked it before or may not be equipped with the proper shoes for the journey. Regardless, you are doing what all great humans have ever done: looking a challenge straight in the eyes and taking it head-on.
But, is writing truly your calling? Will becoming a writer, or writing a story, help satisfy your urge to discover a new aspect of yourself?
Some of the best authors find the crossroads your at to be the best place to begin:
Writing is the constant cycle of rediscovery. That’s the beauty of it.
Writing- whether it be prose, a work of fiction, or even a humble little grocery list- is a new attempt at excavating your truest self and refining its rough, crazy awesome edges. So don’t be afraid if you’ve never done it before. Hemingway, Nin, Godin, and more have all been exactly where you are. And the best part is, with consistency and effort, you can be exactly what they are too: timeless authors.
So where do you begin? How do you start your journey with confidence?
1.Find Your Journal
Take a moment and find a journal that you would like to start your writing journey in. Find a journal that really sings to you, that makes you want to pour your thoughts out into it. Find that special journal that screams “write in me!”
Now, you may not be in the situation to drop everything and go find a journal right now, but trust me, this is a vital step. Having something physical on hand that relates to your new goal is a surefire way to get you writing. So make this step happen!
Make sure this journal is easy to take with you anywhere- to work, on the train, to the park, the doctor’s office, the loo even! (Yeah, gross, but let’s be honest we all do it). Now, tell yourself that absolutely no one but you will see the contents of this journal. Why?
Because promising yourself absolute security allows the “floodgates” to burst open. It’s your first step toward honest writing, which is the most important aspect of writing. Not having to worry about what anyone else will think of your work unlocks your true voice, intentions, desires, and personal revelations.
Granted, this journal doesn’t have to be the only place you write stories in, but it’s sentimental, and a mentally important first step toward crafting a unique creative process. Speaking of creative processes, let’s take on step two:
2. Analyze Goals
In this journal, on the first page on the very top of the page write: “What do I want most from my writing journey?”
Underneath this, you’re going to write this (leave enough space in between each number to write a full, honest answer):
You’re going to write exactly what you want beside or under each section. So go ahead, do this now, buddy. Take a moment to really meditate on your answers. Don’t cut corners and be totes honest with yourself.
Under that list, write in bold:
“My ultimate goal from this new endeavor is:”
and under that, write your answer. Big picture stuff we’re talking about now, so visualize, baby! Dream big!
And finally, under that, write a future date that you would like to see this happen. But what’s the point of that? What if you don’t reach that goal in say, three, five, or eight years? What if you don’t even reach that goal in twenty years time? Are you a failure? Was your writing journey a complete waste of time?
Absolutely not. The ultimate goal is simply an optional destination. You must understand more than anything, the very next step:
3. Respect the true point of writing
Writing is very often a thankless, spotlight-less, frustrating, all-consuming, and mind-exploding endeavor. And for that very reason, the ultimate goal of writing is not about becoming rich and famous. That just happens to be a fortunate perk some authors receive over time. Now, that’s not to say you’ll never become a famous author and you should just give up. No! With diligence, consistency, and an elephant-like skin, you can absolutely do it.
But the point is this: writing must always only be about self-improvement and discovery. It cannot be seen as your ticket to fame because you will lose your love, your passion, and your drive for writing almost instantly.
Writing is a dirty, ugly business. It is meant to unearth the nastiest parts of ourselves and reveal truth to a wide-eyed audience (mostly, ourselves). That means being 100% honest with yourself and being 100% on board with the belief that writing is, and always will be, about the eternal circle of discovery- both external and internal.
Now that we’ve swallowed that horse pill, let’s talk about the key to excellent writing:
4. Read, read, read (and read some more!)
A great writer is a great reader and such a reader takes every opportunity to read fiction novels that not only suit their tastes, but that also reach far outside their tastes as well. Be the person who picks up a kids book one day and an annotated history of George Washington the next. Read fantasy books, science fiction books, books from the genre you wish to write in, books from a genre you’ve never read before. Simply be a well-rounded reader, because a well-rounded, well-read reader makes a fantastic author.
Not only should you be reading works of fiction, but you should also be educating yourself on your craft. Read blog posts, articles, books, anything you can get your hands on when it comes to reliable writing advice. Keep a humble, open mind, and be willing to learn from others who have more experience than you. That is the best way to improve your technique.
Reading great works of fiction is the best way to stoke the fire of creativity in yourself. You’ll find you’re eager to write out the words brewing in your mind. And, speaking of actually writing your first work of fiction, let’s discuss what to write first:
5. Start small
I’m going to write a rock opera that’s 100,000 words and has maps and a soundtrack and a book trailer and a-–
Whoa there buddy! Take a deep breath. Writing a rock opera that’s a million pages is all well and good, but don’t start there. Satisfaction comes from accomplishment. Accomplishment is met one baby-step at a time.
The reason many people turn away from writing in the first place is that they think they have to write a giant, fat novel to be of any note to the wide world of readers out there. But that’s not true (and thank goodness, too.)
Don’t start your journey with a writing task so large it has the potential to intimidate you. You may have a novel formulating in your head right now- characters, places, even scenes you’ve imagined 100x before- and that is awesome. But instead of starting right away on that novel, start smaller.
In that same journal, write three small writing goals you’d like to accomplish. One is a daily goal, two is a monthly goal, and three is a goal by the end of the year.
So, for example:
- Write one poem a day
- Write 1,000 words a month, or one very short story
- Write the first five chapters of my novel
These small goals help you build a successful routine toward bigger stepping stones. Whatever you feel comfortable taking on is the key. You don’t have to start off perfect and you don’t have to end off perfect either. You simply must make sensible progress.
Analyze your progress by a certain date, and see how far you’ve come. And never ever forget to celebrate the little accomplishments, because they lead to big ones!
6. Seek Advice
As I said before, the best way to improve your technique is by being humble and learning from others who have more experience than you. There are many folks out there who are eager to help you make your journey a success, and I’m one of them.
Your journey has only just begun, and the best way to reach your destination is with a trustworthy guide. Take advice from seasoned authors and writers who are on the same path of discovery. Learn from their mistakes, their successes, and most of all, build your own arsenal of educational tools with which to attack your obstacles head-on.
I myself have been taking the journey for over ten years, and am still making incredible discoveries every day. Here, on my blog, I share those discoveries plus advice and techniques aimed to help new authors like you find their footing down this path.
So, what was it that I discovered on my trail through my favorite park, after all?
As I turned the corner down a wild, unbeaten trail, a beam of soft, glowing sunlight pierced through a hole in the green, leafy canopy. The light blanketed a patch of spongy moss so green, it lured me to lay down on it. Surrounding this ethereal patch was a massive felled tree, roots exposed like a wall of ancient history revealing hidden secrets. I was absolutely awestruck.
A leafy grove- it doesn’t sound like much, right? Well, I’m a forest lover by nature, and if I could’ve, I would’ve been born a tree-elf, so this was absolute heaven for me.
So why did I discover this secret glen only yesterday and not so many years ago? Because I was actively searching for something new. I was shedding an old cocoon. I was hungry for a new discovery. I wanted to find something satisfying, and boy, I wasn’t disappointed.
Do you have the desire, then, to discover something new through writing? Do you want to discover yourself and all the aspects of you yet to be learned? Take the first steps toward your goals right now.
Below you’ll find free worksheets and books all aimed to help new writers like you take their first steps. And while you’re at it, subscribe to the Barely Hare Books Newsletter below to receive regular personal boosts aimed to help you achieve all your writing goals, plus much more.
If you’re a new writer, I’d also love to hear from you. Please give a little shout out in the comments section below, I’d love to personally welcome you to the Barely Hare Books community and congratulate you on your new journey.