by Ashley Shannon
Each person reacts differently when they realize they want to write a book. It’s the easiest part of the process for some, whereas it may be the hardest for others. It could be as simple as “I have this idea, I’m going to write about it!” or it could feel like a mountainous task. So, how do you start writing?
When I decided I was going to write a book, I had more of the second reaction. I knew that I wanted it to be something serious, not to approach it as a hobbyist, but to create a successful career. I realized early on that this was possible as a blogger, but, in my heart of hearts, my passion was young adult fiction.
Knowing this gave me a good start. I had a specific goal in mind and genre, but now what. What was I supposed to do next? Was I supposed just to sit down and put words on a page, or if I should have a plan?
I opted to start writing to see where it’d take me. I quickly began to struggle. I would start a story only to hit a block as I wrote myself into a corner. My characters had conversations that didn’t do much, and I didn’t know how to move the plot forward. Soon, I’d get frustrated and walk away from the project.
It was about this time when I learned how to outline a story. While outlining isn’t for everyone, it has helped me tremendously, not just to finish my stories but to write faster. As a work-from-home mom, time is one of my most precious commodities. The quicker I can get a story done, the better. This ability allowed me to provide for my family and freed me up to move on to the next piece.
The first step in writing a book is to discover which process works the best for you. Are you are a panster or a plotter? It doesn’t matter as long as you get the job done. Try out a few methods, read up on your favorite author’s process, and experiment to figure which style works for you.
If you find that just writing a story by the seat of your pants doesn’t work, try plotting. Sometimes as artists, we need the lines to help us color. Having an idea of your overall story arch won’t kill creativity or take the fun out of it.
It’s like being on a road trip. You leave home with a map. Having the directions doesn’t ruin the experience. It just gives you an idea of what town you’ll pass through next. Writing with a simple outline is the same thing.
Each writer is a bit different. Learn what works for you. It may not be what works for others since no one’s writing routine is the same. Embrace what makes you productive, and you will discover that you are soon writing the book you’ve been dreaming of for years.