“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” ~ Mark Twain
1. Sit. Write.
Get what’s in your head onto paper. Transform your thoughts into readable words. Don’t worry about whether the words are the beginning, middle, or end of your story. Your head needs room for the other words you haven’t thought of yet.
2. Embrace Imperfection.
You aren’t perfect. It’s okay. Your writing isn’t perfect. That’s okay, too. Your first draft is your worst. Embrace the suck.
3. Seek Out One or Two Loyal Story Readers.
Loyal story readers are people who love to read stories and love you. You need people who will read your partial story and tell you how wonderful your story is and how awesome you are. Repeatedly. And just as important, tell you where your story gets off track or doesn’t make sense. You don’t need adverb hunters or dialog tag bigots. Yet.
4. Don’t Defend. Fix.
If your loyal story reader says your story doesn’t make sense, don’t explain it to him or her. It’s a gift. To explain would be like unwrapping a present and saying the color is wrong for your skin tone. And the gift was a set of dishes. Say “Thank you.” Re-read your story. Think about how to fix it. And do it. Make I Can Fix It your middle name and your favorite song.
5. Appreciate Writer’s Block.
Writer’s Block is your story’s way of saying you are trying too hard. Back off. Write something else. Write a Short Story. Ask your story readers to read the short story. See #4.
6. Toughen Up, Buttercup.
Suit up with armor. Develop a thick skin. Find a critique group of writers to read and critique your short story. You will learn what you do well. Celebrate! You will also learn how it feels to be Number One of the Dreaded Awful. Awful at dialog? Awful at telling, not showing? Awful at head-hopping? Awful at descriptions? Awful at obscure grammar rules? More gifts!
My favorite critique group is online. www.critiquecircle.com No meetings to attend, and I can critique or be critiqued any time of day (or night) and any day of the week. And there are free, low cost, and show-off memberships.
7. Author-ize Yourself.
Join a writer’s group. Read blogs on writing. Comment on the blogs. Design your own website. Buy a t-shirt, coffee mug, ballcap with a pithy writer saying like “Writer.” Return to #1 and write, write, write.
“My books are water; those of the great geniuses is wine. Everybody drinks water.” ~ Mark Twain