I recently had a chat with a friend on Facebook who asked me to give him some tips about writing. I thought I’d post part of my reply for you – there maybe some useful ideas here for you too.
Based on your writing in the message you sent me, you don’t need a writing course. You know how to write. And you’re good. So just write. Pick a subject or a character or a chapter or a part of your story and just sit down and write about it. Edit later.
Make a cup of tea and get a tasty snack to munch on while you write – dark chocolate coated licorice is my favourite. And commit to sitting for 20 minutes or an hour, or a day or whatever amount of time you want. And just write. Write from the heart. Ask yourself… What am I really trying to say here? What feeling do I want to create in the reader? You will find your unique voice. And I find that the more I write, the more inspired I am to write more.
I’ve mapped out the chapters in my novel – I’m writing my autobiography – and I just pick a time in my life, or a place, or a person, or a moment, and write about it. All those parts will one day add up to the whole story. Some parts of my life I’m not interested in writing about, but they are important to the story, so I have decided to write them last.
Writer’s block does surface from time to time. If you get writer’s block I do what I call ‘free writing’ – I just gets words on the page about the subject, whatever I feel even if it makes no sense and is rubbish. I don’t worry about the quality. I just keep writing and slowly the words start to flow again and before you know it you’ve been sitting there writing for half an hour.
Now even though I said you don’t need a writing course, there’s no harm in doing one. Great for confidence building. Even after 15 years of professional writing I still get plagued with self doubt at times and think I have no talent or ability. I think it’s just part of the creative person’s lot unfortunately! I got inspired to go to uni after doing a short course in creative writing at the local community centre so maybe have a look around your local area.
Google is a great resource for things like style, standard plot and tips. I also used a brilliant book when I first started writing called Writing down the Bones by Natalie Golberg. It has some excellent writing exercises – writing is like anything, you need to practise it to improve.
I also would suggest a blog. Do you have one? I must admit I don’t get much time to post in mine anymore, but they are fun and a good way to keep writing. I also follow a lot of writers on twitter – great for sharing inspirational quotes and asking questions. Maybe make some new twitter friends who write!
So just start writing – good luck and have fun!