3 Ways to Start Your Writing Journey
Today I received a private message from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. She was incredibly excited and told me how she’d had a million-dollar idea for a story. There was only one problem: NOW WHAT?!
If you find yourself walloped over the head by an idea, a story, a screenplay, or a business idea:
THE IDEA WAS MEANT TO BE YOURS.
It found you! That means no one else can write it, perform it, or launch it. Only you. And the time is now.
Don’t try to figure out HOW. How most oftentimes doesn’t matter. The “how” works itself out in due time. A mountain climber knows his goal is the top of that mountain, but he doesn’t know each and every step he’ll take to climb to the top. He’ll have to course correct, change his plan with the elements, and guess what, fearless writer? So will you.
I reached the top of my publication mountain, but I didn’t stop making goals and aiming for another summit. I’m currently embarking on a fun and exciting journey at this very moment. I’m not sure how it’s going to all happen, but I’m aiming for the top anyway.
I felt honored that my friend reached out to ask me (some really amazing) questions, and I was so excited to answer them, I grabbed my laptop and wrote a verrrry long answer! After I shared those answers I started thinking about more people who, like my friend, wondered where the heck to start. So let’s talk about that, shall we?
3 Ways to Start Your Writing Journey
1) I have a great idea for a book. What do I do now?!
Write it down. You can outline or make a bullet-pointed list, you can write down future scenes that you’ve envisioned, or start at chapter one and write until you run out of steam. I honestly don’t think it matters WHERE you start, only THAT you start. Books aren’t written from beginning to end in perfectly laid out prose. They’re messy and sloppy. Sometimes scenes are in the wrong order or a character behaves in a way that makes no sense. Black moments change, epilogues are added, characters that take away from the story are deleted. That’s what the editing process is for. Once you’ve finished your masterpiece (ha), you need to let it rest for a few days. A week. A month. Get some distance. Read some blogs about writing, or a writing craft book. Go play with your dog or your kids. Clean the house or daydream. Once you’ve taken that break, open it up from page one and read it, then write down what works and what doesn't work. That’s the editing process.
2) Where do you take your book? Who do you talk to first?
Flesh out your idea first. Is it a movie? Are you writing a script? Is it a novel? Once you know what you have (i.e, I knew I had a romance novel) then it's time for research. What kind of publishers publish the type of book you're writing? When I knew I had a romance, I went to the bookstore and found the publisher names on the spines of books like the one I was writing and went home to research them. I wanted to know if they required an agent for a submission or if I could send it directly from there. Self-Publishing is road that many take nowadays, but there is a learning curve to that path as well. Research is your friend. Ask questions and employ the Google machine as your assistant. There are countless books, blogs, and websites dedicated to helping you publish a book. You can even check out the FOR WRITERS section of this website where I often publish helpful posts like this one.
3) How do I find out if anyone has written a book like this before?
Great news: That absolutely doesn't matter! None of us are out here doing what's not been written before. It's ALL been written before! But it's the way you're doing it that will make a difference. J.K. Rowling didn't write the first wizard book, Stephenie Meyer didn't write the first vampire book, and I certainly didn't write the first billionaire book. Isn't that great news?
Just lean into it. Write some stuff down and let your imagination go wild. You don't have to know what to do ten steps from now. This process is a process and typically the steps reveal themselves when they're ready and not a moment before. I didn't know how to do anything when I wrote my first book. I researched publishers, joined a writing group, started a blog, found critique partners on Twitter, signed an agent... Remember the mountain climber I mentioned? Be prepared for your journey. Anticipate what you think you’ll need along the way, but don’t limit yourself to taking one path to get there. If that path is blocked by a rockslide, grab your map and find another way.