Photo by Tnarik (Creative Commons)
I’ve been writing seriously for a little over a year and a half. If you don’t know my story, you can read more here. I’ve grown so much in a relatively short amount of time and I’m so honored to know so many fantastic writers.
But I’ve also had some challenges along the way: from focusing too much on social media and web traffic, to being obsessed with becoming a carbon copy of the most popular bloggers.
I wish I would have focused more on these things instead:
1. Read a lot. But most importantly—read work that inspires you. Topics and stories which captivate you and carry you to another place. Know there is no shame in revisiting old classics from when you were a kid. For example, I have fallen in love with comic books and graphic novels I read 15-20 years ago.
2. Write in private. Don’t start a blog because you keep hearing folks tell you to start a blog. Keep the work in private and focus on your craft. With blogs come a million new distractions. It can easily become a popularity contest as opposed to an exercise in writing—especially for a beginner. Without extreme focus and dedication, blogging can become a roller coaster.
3. Don’t overdo it. When I first started out, I was very excited about writing so I spent hours and hours writing every day but I didn’t take care of myself. One month later, I was completely exhausted. I fought my body and tried to ignore the warning signs. Before you know it, I made myself sick.
4. Don’t go in alone. You need support. You need community. I so wish I had this when I started out. What if you don’t know anyone? Well, you know me. I want to help! Know there is hope, so please don’t be overwhelmed. There is a great group of writers in Writers Unite and they want to encourage you and support you to create your best work. I have lead this group for the last 8 months and I am thrilled to be a part of such a great community.
5. Write with joy. Write because you love what you are writing about. Go ahead, you can get fired up. I’m currently writing a Batman story and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve EVER done. If the thought of writing doesn’t excite you like a kid on Christmas morning, you probably are not writing about the right topic. If you are writing only to make money, you have already failed. You won’t ever be satisfied. You have to write for something more; why not choose joy?
6. Question everything. When starting out, it’s easy to just look to others for answers. The assumption is as follows: this worked for Jake, therefore it will work for me. This is often false. Each of us is different. There are no real writing rules or steps that you must follow. Everything you read about writing is a suggestion. Go ahead and question this post. I’m not offended at all. All of this is from my personal experience and yours might be different, so please find what works well for you and do it.
7. Experiment like crazy. Experiments are not failures, they are experiments. I experimented with a guitar blog for quite a while. I thought guitar was my main passion, but it turns out it’s a hobby right now. But you know what is great? Guitar could still become my main passion down the road. NOTHING is certain. Just put yourself out there and experiment. Go ahead and start today!
If I can help in any way, just fire me an email.
What is the best advice you have for beginning writers?