A load of contradictory opinion about writing…
I love the saying in this poster; someone – an accomplished author – told me this early on, and I think it’s very true. It can be very painful to write – mentally painful – which is why many who like the idea of it never start; not to mention that “how to start” is really very difficult.
Firstly, if you don’t read much, you should consider yourself buggered in the writing stakes – don’t bother – you won’t be doing anyone a favour. In other words: READ! Read everything. Especially read the kind of books that you’d like to write, but also have plenty of variety. And even if you’d like to write ‘chick lit’, read the classics – Dickens and Jane Austen – Of Mice & Men and To Kill a Mockingbird – if you’re a Kiwi, don’t even think about writing until you’ve read The Bone People and Mr Pip. If you’re writing anything that’s even remotely feminist – you must read Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood. Of course these only make up a smattering of the great authors and books, but they’re a few on my list of the best.
Second, you must talk with other writers, preferably published authors, and you must do so regularly.
You must have your work critiqued, and you must be prepared for criticism. You will only be better at what you do with feedback.
DO NOT – please!!! – write about yourself and your amazing life. Or at least start with a story based on one small part of your amazing life. If you want to write about yourself, this isn’t writing, this is reporting. But if your life really is amazing then you’ll have an abundance of material from which to create some glorious fiction.
There are some fabulous books about writing – two of the best I think are “On Writing” by Stephen King, and “Writing down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg.
People will tell you that you need to blog, and you need to subscribe to this, that and the other, and you must join the Society of Authors, and so on and so on. What you NEED to do is whatever feels right for you at the time – it’s very easy to get caught up in all the things you NEED to do and run out of time or energy to actually write. You will work out for yourself what works for you to be able to write and succeed at it, whatever success may mean to you.
In the end, writing is like any other art; as van Gogh said: “If you hear a voice within you saying You are not an artist, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”