How to be a writer – Pick up a pen

Let’s talk about being a writer. You see recently I’ve been doing some studies that focus on writing fiction, as a means to develop my knowledge.  One of the first things we were asked to do on this course is to introduce ourselves. My introduction went as follows: 

“Excited to get going on this course! I’m still very much an amateur writer but I suppose you will always be learning and therefore always an amateur. I have a website www.charlie-wright.co.uk where I share short stories, advice, and guidance as well as other social links. Follow me! Would love some writing friends”

Of course, I had to promote myself, that was a given but I share this not for the promotion but the common sense. ‘Always an amateur’, this one statement peeked interest with a few including myself. I said it off the top of my head but when I read back it makes perfect sense. 

I’m surrounded by doubts, worries, people never thinking they’re good enough. People always striving to improve. Take note ‘improve’. You never stop learning and the term ‘amateur’ refers to inexperience, but everyone is inexperienced in some way otherwise there would be no room to improve, am I right? So, why beat yourself up about not being good enough? There is no highest level or top pedestal to reach so why do we do it? Strange post, I know. I would just like to put that thought in your head the next time you start beating yourself up about not doing enough. I’m not saying I don’t have these thoughts by any means. I have plenty of worries and doubts thanks to an anxiety problem but I don’t let that stop me.

You’re always an amateur. Always learning something new, always striving too improve. So why hold yourself back and limit yourself? I’m not excepting you to write a novel or jump off a cliff ski diving but too just except that you can never be perfect. Perfection is an impossibility. 

So, to any writers out there. Stop worrying about messing up and your work not being good enough. Write what you want to write and stop blaming writer’s block everytime you get ‘stuck’ with doubts. 

Want to be a writer? Then pick up a pen and write. 

Writing Inspiration – Where and how to find it.

As a writer, you aren’t limited to where you find inspiration from. Everything and anything can inspire a writer. Everything from the mug of coffee in your hand to the bird sitting on a branch outside to the neighbour who annoys everyone they meet. Inspiration is everywhere if you understand what it is and get in the right mindset for seeing it and understanding what you see.  I would highly recommend reading my post on writing focus. In order to find inspiration, we must be focused.

Reading

Whether it’s reading a book, magazine or another blog. Reading is the easiest way to get inspiration as a writer and you can’t have one without the other. If you don’t read a lot, then you won’t make it as a writer. 

Listening to conversations

Everyone has those times where you’re walking through town doing errands and you can’t help but hear what others are talking. You will be surprised at how inspiring these overheard conversations can be for a writer. 

Media

Films, TV shows, Music, and Video games are all great sources of inspiration. Especially if they follow the same genre that you want to write in. Even the internet can be a source of inspiration. 

Writing with no target

Writing for the sake of writing can be a great help in finding inspiration for new stories or ideas. Just set a timer for ten minutes or so and jot down anything that comes to mind even if it ends up in the bin after, it may well give you inspiration and will certainly get your creative juices flowing and may even allow you to vent some of your frustrations or worries.  

Word Games 

Play word association games, scrabble, even charades. You can get inspiration from any word related games.  For example, pick 6 words out of a book and then create a 6-paragraph story from those words. 

Keep a Journal 

Try to get into a habit of carrying a notebook everywhere you go. Even if you’re just nipping to the shops. If ever you think of something great, then you need somewhere to write it down promptly before forgetting. This is a good thing to get into a habit of doing every day.

Change your environment

Sometimes just a change of scenery or setting can be enough to inspire you with a new idea. When you work in the same place all the time your brain becomes bored and inspiration and focus become difficult. 

Write what you see

If you’re really struggling for inspiration, then sometimes the simplest things can be the most inspiring. You know we talked about taking your journal everywhere with you? Try taking it somewhere simple like a park or even a meal out and write what you see. Everything from the colour of the grass at the park to the smell of the pasta dish you’re eating. every day in as much detail as possible without it being too wordy and pay attention to your surroundings. Spot the things other might not like the waitress giving a knowing look to another about a customer or maybe a child hitting another in the park. Little scenes like this can make all the difference in good stories so make notes for a later date. 

Lost your writing focus? Here’s how you can get it back.

Read a lot 

How many times have you been reading a book and all of a sudden an idea for that story you have been working on pops into your mind and you have to scribble it down before you forget? Use that to your advantage. If you’re struggling to focus, read for a while. Reading, after all, is research for writing. This gives you a break but keeps your mind in writers mode. 

Remove distractions

If something keeps pulling your focus whether it’s technology, people or even the outside world. Remove that distraction. Close your curtains and turn off that TV. 

Write for you

Everyone knows how good it can be to write down your thoughts and feelings or just scribble in a journal. Sometimes it’s good to vent like this with your writing. Writing crap is better than writing nothing at all. Everything you write is still a learning experience. So, grab some pen and paper and write down anything that comes to mind. Time yourself for say, 10 minutes and see what you write. You might surprise yourself. 

Make it a game

If you’re really struggling to focus think outside the box. Instead of seeing writing as a chore or just something you need to do. Make it fun and make it a game. Set yourself challenges such as completing a word count by a certain time or getting a reward when you’ve been writing for so long. This can force your brain into focus mode. You could even create some word of word games from your writing. Give yourself a break and see how many times you can use the word ‘sight’ in 300 words whilst making sure it still makes sense to the reader. Challenge accepted. 

Remind yourself why you’re doing it  

Sometimes a loss of focus can be because you’re doubting your skills as a writer or you have fallen out of love with what you’re writing. In that case, you need to remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. Focus on how it makes you feel.

Rewind

Similar to when you remind yourself why you started in the first place. Sometimes it can be as simple as rewinding or replaying the story in your mind or an idea for a story to be able to pick it up again. Sit back, get comfortable and ready what you’ve already written. That can be enough to make you focus again and can even give you a new insight into what’s next for your story.

Schedule time for writing

It’s too easy to avoid writing if you don’t set time for it. Just like setting time for housework, your job and even eating. You have to set time aside for writing. Creating a general schedule to keep to can really help with this so you know on Thursday Morning, for example, you will be writing the plot line for the story whereas Friday Evening you need to be focusing on spending time reading. This is also a good way to make sure you don’t miss anything throughout your week.

Play that funky music

There have been endless studies done on the effects of music on your focus and general mood. There are even playlists on Spotify for concentration. Sit down, relax and get in the mindset of writing with some appropriate music. 

Write or die 

There is writing software and tools out there that help you with your lack of focus. Well, when I say help, I mean to punish. The premise is, if you don’t write a certain amount of words or right continuously without a break for a whole thirty minutes then everything you have written will be deleted. It doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth a try. I like the one attached to the software ‘Storyline Creator’.

Take a breather

If you have tried all of the above and still can’t seem to get back into writer’s mode then take a step back and take a break. Sometimes that is all you need. Write something completely different or don’t write anything at all for a few days.

Writing – 9 Awesome Things About Being A Writer

Recently I talked about the things I hate about writing so, I guess you could imagine what was coming next. Despite all the hard parts, the hair pulling and the frustrations, I love what I do.

1. Being my own boss
I am not a people person, not at all. I like being on my own, in fact, I enjoy it and crave it. So, I always hated having to go to work and be around people for the day in a job that I hated. The work gossip and the indefinite stream of ‘small talk’, it’s like a trap you can’t break free from until the clock tells you, you can go home. Then it repeats. It’s both daunting every night and draining every day. Being your own boss has its challenges but the rewards significantly outweigh for me.

2. The community
From the very beginning, I have found writing communities to be one of the most rewarding and friendly I’ve known. No matter how far you’re on your journey, as soon as you get excited about something and tell people, they get excited too. You have a little family that stands by you, helps you when you need it but congratulates you at the end of it. You also learn the meaning of the term ‘constructive criticism’ at a very early stage. If you embrace that, you grow.

3. Freedom over topics/strong>
Being a Self-Published writer -Rephrase, I was a Self-Published Writer who unpublished my books, I’m still a writer but currently, don’t have anything published due to reworks –  I can write what I want when I want. All the topics of conversation we wouldn’t think to talk about or tell to other people as if they were secrets. I can literally talk like an open book. This also means that I can create whoever I want. Everything from someone with mental health problems, serial killers or someone becoming a hero to the human race.

You can talk about anything you want, granted, you will get backlash. It won’t be all rosy and rainbows but it feels good to be able to talk about deep stuff sometimes. Writers will often try to place these topics into their writing in more subtle ways, either by opinionated characters or events in the plot.

4. A purpose
Writing gives me a purpose. It allows my creativity to flow whilst being unhindered and uncontrolled, to an extent. Somewhat like journaling, being a writer allows me to process my thoughts and feelings and sometimes even project them onto my characters. It allows you to take a step back from a situation whilst also being in control of it. Words are all you need to be the god of your own world and it’s very existence. That’s an amazing feeling.

5. An explosive idea
Every once in a while you get that idea, maybe it starts as a little spark. Most of the time those sparks just fizzle out and become dust to cover the pages in your brain, but, sometimes that spark turns into an explosion of creativity that twists and turns through the pages and creates something special. That idea becomes your whole existence until you get everything written down. That’s creativity like no other.

6. Character attachment
Through your development of the characters in your book, you act more as the messenger or the ‘narrator’. Your job is to write what they do but a good character has complete control over the story and plot. They control how they behave in situations and for the most part become a person within the pages. The writer is just telling the audience what that person does. So, it’s a given, that when your characters die or something terrible happens to them, or, even if you finish the book, it’s sad. You can feel like you’ve lost a friend just as a reader does. You become attached to the people you create on a more, somewhat potent level.

7. Publishing
The feeling of accomplishment and utter relief when you hit that publish button is like no other. You have worked your butt off writing that book, article or blog post for so long that when it’s done you have a whole moment of glorified happiness before you realize that you then have to market said piece of writing.

8. Reviews
When I had my books published, getting those first reviews was a wonderful feeling of periodical happiness. As a writer, you often think about others reading your writing and their reactions, to read what those reactions are can be heartwarming. Don’t get me wrong, you also get bad reviews but you soon grow a thick skin as a writer and focus on the good ones more so.

9. Enjoyment
The biggest reason I love writing it because it allows me to see the world in a different light and makes me more grateful to be alive. You connect with so many emotions on paper that you appreciate what you have all the more. You finish writing a horror scene where someone dies and then smile as your other half walks into the room. I love that feeling of indulgence and pure gratitude.  Writing is like nothing else. You experience so many emotions in one day by writing a story that you haven’t necessarily experience and all from the comfort of your own home. I love what I do.

Tell me, what do you love about writing?