The last few weeks have been interesting. A few people have come to ask me how to start writing. I get excited when people say they want to write. Writing is so much a part of my life now. I need to write as much as I need to breathe.
The people who approached me were genuine in their curiosity about the craft. My first thoughts were that they were expecting a full-blown description of a magical formula on how to write. There is no formula. If you want to write, you just write. Pick up a pen, select some paper and just start writing words, one after the other, as they come into your mind. You are writing. It is that easy. When I saw furrowed brows I realised something wasn't connecting. They had obviously started writing and it wasn't working for them in some way. After further discussion what they really wanted to know was what do they write about. This is a fair thought. You want to write something interesting and inspiring for your reader.
I believe there are two questions that must first be answered. Are you writing for yourself? Are you writing for publication?
If you are writing for you, the task is easier. Some people write because they want to explore their minds and their hearts as a thinker. Others write to record their life journey and try to make sense of what has happened and where they want to go for the future. Both of these approaches to writing are therapeutic, and so is writing for publication. When you share your work with readers, reactions will vary. Some will resonate with your words, others will reject the work. What's important is that this is how you see the world and no one else can see the same world as you. It is the differences that make the writing life so interesting.
If you are writing for publication, your approach to writing will be different, although the process may be similar. You still have to put one word after the other on paper or screen. It is so easy to publish your own work these days. The common denominator though is the quality of the work. You don't want work out there that is of a low standard. More about this in a later post.
The important thing is to pick up a pen and place it on the paper, or sit at the key board and start forming words from your thoughts and don't stop moving the pen or your fingers until you have words on the page or screen. They may not be good words. It doesn't matter. Editing will come later. Get those raw thoughts down and then shape them into what you want to say. In "Writing Down The Bones", Natalie Goldberg gives great ideas on how to do this and additional exercises in writing practice to help you let go of your inhibitions about writing.
After a major change in my life, I adapted Natalie's method to my own and have been writing this way for the past three years. This new method of writing has opened up my heart and mind in ways I'd never dreamed possible. Be prepared for times when your pen will be flying across the page and other times your pen will slow and eventually stop. No matter how hard you try you can't move on. Natalie Goldberg says to just keep writing even if you only write: 'I don't know what to write' until you break through. It works for me. Many of my notebooks are filled with that sentence resulting in long days at the keyboard. I have a theory on this which will be revealed in my new website that is currently under development and will be live in a few months. I am working on it with an inspirational team of developers who are putting my new ideas together. It will be interactive, including fun things to download.
I have been through some dark years where I have pulled back from the world to discover who I really am and heal those areas of me that needed some attention. I want to share the lessons I learned and I hope to encourage you on your journey, too. So for whatever reason you want to write, take up your favourite pen, and a notebook (it doesn't have to be anything fancy) and get started. I use an A4 spiral notebook and have done so for several years. I started using these notebooks after filling all the lovely notebooks friends have given me as special gifts over the years.
So, get started...now, and have fun. Leave me a message to let me know how you're progressing.