Becoming a great writer, in 3 steps
#1: Start Writing
Shouldn’t ‘come up with a great idea’ be here? Surely, ‘write a great outline’ should be number one.
I completely disagree. In fact, one of the reasons that many people never become writers is because they think they have to have those things done before they begin.
There is something to be said for having an idea, but don’t confuse that with knowing the entire story. Perhaps you know how a story should end, or you have a character in your head that seems interesting. Then again, maybe you don’t have any of that. Start writing anyway! Write a line and see where it takes you. Often times you’ll be surprised what begins to happen.
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#2: Don’t stop writing
This means, don’t stop your flow for any reason, just keep going. Don’t stop to edit, don’t stop to rewrite, just keep writing. The more often you break your rhythm, the higher the chances that you’ll get bogged down and fail to finish what you’re working on.
There will be plenty of time for editing and revising once you have an ending! What is the point of constantly reworking the first ten chapters, if you don’t even know how the second half of the book goes? You may spend a week editing a chapter, and then find that once everything is finished, that chapter should be deleted entirely. Until the book is finished, don’t stop writing.
#3: Send the story to beta readers before you edit
This one is a little tricky because we don’t want to send beta readers garbage. You should have at least gone through it and done your very best to clean it up before you send it off. However, do not do any major rewriting until after you’ve received feedback from several readers. Beta readers are an extremely important part of the process. They will give you a reader’s impression of the story, and let you know if something doesn’t flow, or feel right to them.
After you receive the feedback, then it’s time to dive in and rewrite the parts that don’t work. This is your first major overhaul of your story, and it will probably be dramatically different from the first draft.
That’s it, now go write!
That really is it, start writing and don’t stop until you’re done! Even if you can just write a few hundred words at a time, that’s fine. Do it as often as you can, and don’t go backward. Once it’s finished, let several beta readers give you their thoughts, and rework the story to your heart’s delight.
If you’ve done all that, you’re a writer! That doesn’t mean you’ve written something that will sell, but it does mean that you’re on your way to writing stories. You’ll need professional editing, marketing, cover design, and lots more to turn a great story into something that the public can enjoy. The first step though is the great story, so follow the three steps above and get to work!