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Not knowing how to write can be a bigger obstacle that you’d imagine. It’s often more important than what you write about, I have found.

They say that everybody has got a book in them. That may be true, but as a quick trawl through of any bookshop remainders section will show you, just because a book can be written, it doesn’t mean that it should be, nor that it will sell.

Something else that a lot of people say – writers do anyway – is that you should write for yourself. You need to keep the likely audience in mind, but it should be (in my opinion) at the back of your mind until you reach the editing stages.

The tricky topic of what to write ABOUT is another line that some wannabes find difficult. Waiting for inspiration to strike can be a good excuse for doing nothing.

One way round this is to realise that a creative process like writing (or painting, composing, designing…), is an end in itself. The key is to start, to see what comes along, rather than waiting for something to come along before you start writing about it.

It’s not about a book

In life in general we often find ourselves blocked simply by the magnitude of the ambition or the problem to be solved. If it looks too big it can be daunting. You don’t know where to start, and it’s hard to stay motivated when building a sand castle one grain of sand at a time.

Write a word, a sentence, a paragraph at a time. Treasure the tiny parts and the whole might emerge. Go for the whole thing too quickly and you can choke on your ambition.

Six crafty ways to start

  1. Write because you want to (but that doesn’t mean that you find it easy)
  2. Don’t wait until you feel moved or inspired (unless you simply want to enhance your procrastination skills)
  3. Write, and write some more. Don’t get stumped looking for exactly the right word or a perfectly crafted sentence (you can improve things during editing, if you get that far)
  4. Let the topic (or the character) find you (even when you have a topic in mind you might find it changes during the process)
  5. Write every day (having ‘no time’ is no excuse)
  6. Indulge yourself by making your writing moment your ‘special time’ (when it becomes what you live for you’ll have replaced the wannabe worries with more serious concerns, like how to be better at your craft).

These guidelines are not hard and fast, but they may help get you started. Remember – to paraphrase George Orwell – that you should ignore any of them rather than doing anything that offends you.

How to write need not be a problem.There are many ways to write, you choose the one that suits you. First you have to learn that all things are possible. Then maybe you’ll create a new form.


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