Recently one of my students posed the question, “How do I become a fiction writer?”
I thought about it for a while – there’s no real obvious answer. The urge to write fiction seems God-given for some, a learned skill for others.
One thing is certain – it requires practice and a particular mindset. But, if you’re a beginner, where do you start?
The following tips will help kick-start your writing habit, whether you’re a complete novice, or perhaps a pro who has lost their way!
1. Step Away From the Car, Sir.
Slightly detach yourself from your surroundings. Stop participating and begin observing. In social situations, watch people, see how they act and – more importantly – interact.
Don’t pass judgment. Take it all in – and draw on it later when you write.
2. Look Harder, Homer
Stop and look around you. Consciously notice the buildings, what’s underfoot, overhead, and what’s right in front of you.
At home, look at something you take for granted. An iron, for instance. Find yours and study it.
3. Write Thinking Will Be Rewarded.
A simple technique. Your mother is making tea and you are chatting to her. Take a mental step back and describe the scene.
“I watched as her delicate hand turned the tap to the right. Water gushed into the old silver kettle. The sound was hollow…”
Similarly, when you’re outside, describe your environment as though you were writing it down.
4. What Reasons Do You Need?
Don’t wait for inspiration – just write!
Force yourself to write anything at all. A shopping list. An overheard conversation. Describe your bedroom.
It doesn’t matter how personal it is, or how trivial, just get it down!
5. Wakey Wakey!
Set your alarm clock for an hour earlier than normal.
When the alarm goes off, get up. Don’t dress, bathe or eat. Don’t even make coffee. Just stagger to your writing space and write the first thing that comes into your head for five minutes.
6. Oh God – Not That!
Think of the most awful and embarrassing thing you’ve ever done – the more cringe-worthy the better. Now write about it. All of it, in all its gory, horrible detail.
Then hide it away for a year or so before you read it again!
7. Like Your Style, Baby.
Don’t limit yourself. Write poems, songs, dialogue, fact, fiction, even practice writing advertising copy or horoscopes.
Your expertise improves in all areas – an improvement in one area can reap benefits in another.
8. The Sincerest Flattery
Take out a classic book from your bookcase. Copy out a paragraph. Think about the words as you write them. Don’t get intimidated!
9. Wanna See My Invention?
When you’re not writing, string together stories in your mind. Think of plots, characters, and settings.
Ask yourself what you should do next to improve your writing.
Develop this technique into a habit. v 10. It’s A Goal!
When you start writing regularly, set small goals for yourself. Anything from 200 words a day, or just a commitment to writing in your diary.
Later extend to finishing a short story, or an article or a poem. Perhaps one in a week.
The trick is to set goals you can achieve easily.
That way you’ll get the writing habit – and you won’t forget to enjoy it!
(c) Rob Parnell