Taking up writing is one of the best things you can do. You’re stepping in to a world of adventure, learning, adapting, and new beginnings. You have the chance to experience all of these in a different context, and there’s so much support along the way.
But there are challenges that come with being a beginner. It’s not that you can’t do it, it’s just there are a lot of thinking traps you might fall into.
Fear not, beginner, because the writing community is here to help. These are some common thinking traps you might find yourself in, but also ways to avoid them so you can enjoy the best parts of being a new writer.
Thinking Trap: Too many ideas to choose
When you first start out writing, there’s usually a reason you dive in. You have an idea (or a million) and you aren’t sure which one to choose. I was in this boat not too long ago. I had some bits and pieces of ideas I wanted to pursue but nothing was fully developed.
The first thing you can do is rank them by excitement. If there’s an idea that you know is just waiting for elaboration, put that at the top. Then, find which one is the most developed or has the most potential. You can also lightly outline each idea and see which one you get the most out of. If you really can’t choose one at this point, pick at random.
Best Part: You have thoughts about what to pursue
When you’ve had these ideas stuck in your head and nowhere to go, you have time to think about them. The more you think about them, the more you develop them. My first novel had been an idea in my head since maybe even before high school. That idea has turned into two more books because I’ve been able to develop it as I have gotten older. The best part about having so many ideas to choose from is that you know those ideas well and can make something out of them.
Thinking Trap: You don’t know where to start
Beginnings are hard. You aren’t experienced, you have to learn a new process, and you feel like you’re out of your depths. It’s frustrating to sit and stare at a blank page when you have an idea but don’t know where to start.
Instead, start with what you know. I had no idea how to craft a beginning to a book so I chose to start with something I knew well. I started at the end (which eventually became the middle after three drafts). It was a scene I had worked out in my head before on many occasions. Once I got that out, I was able to work backwards to figure out how to push my characters to that point.
You don’t always have to start at the end, but once you get the writing started, often you uncover pieces that you can turn into before scenes or after scenes. Using the momentum, you’ll be able to work toward a beginning without the fear of a blank page.
Best Part: There’s no pressure to get it right the first time
Spoiler alert, this is the best part whether you’re a beginner or an expert. When you write a first draft, there is no pressure to have it perfect. In fact, I’m betting it’s impossible. Give yourself permission to write without fear of having everything perfect. The best part about first drafts is that they are rough and no one ever has to see them. If you get the words out, you can go back and make them pretty later.
Write glorious garbage, my friends, and free yourself from your perfectionism.
Thinking Trap: Comparing yourself to experienced writers
You take a look back at what you just wrote and you hate it. So and so wrote about this topic and did it so much better. They have more reads and claps and money than you do. They have a following and they know what they’re doing.
Let me get this into your brain: stop comparing yourself to experienced writers when you are a beginner.
First, everyone started as a beginner — no one wrote one article and was an expert from there after. Writing is a growth process; one you have to work at, learn, and adapt with. My first blog post is garbage, but I look back and see how much I’ve developed since then. I’m a little embarrassed by it, but hey, that’s what writing is.
Second, remember you are seeing a finished product, not a first draft. It’s like those curated Instagram posts where everyone’s life seems perfect. That’s what you’re seeing when you read an article or post; a filtered and clean photo, not the mess outside the frame or the work someone did to make everything shine just right. You’re still learning how to get the right post at the right angle at the right time, so don’t let someone else’s version dampen your perceptions.
Best Part: The writing community is supportive and helpful
By being on Medium or blogging or joining a writing group, you’ve got a built in writing community of support. In fact, you don’t even have to publish anything for them to be there. You can always find this community when you need it.
The writing community is full of people who love to give value to others through their writing. This comes in the form of helpful articles, writing tips, productivity help, and more. We love to support and help others achieve their dreams and pursue their creative passions. Seeing others have success and helping others get through hard times is our own reward, so often we give this information for free.
Thinking Trap: So much advice to follow
Because the writing community is so giving, there’s a lot of advice out there. Even this post has been done a million times, but I write it because I have a different perspective. That’s the great thing about having a surplus of advice to follow.
Everyone has a different take on certain subjects so there’s a lot of ways to say the same things. The best part is, you don’t have to apply everything. While it’s important to gather data and test what works for you, your combination of advice won’t be the same as another writer. That’s what makes writing so special. There’s no original idea, but you tell it in a different way.
Best Part: Build off your passion and learn
The best part about being a beginning writer is the passion and excitement that comes from a new outlet. You’re itching to learn, gathering as much data and information as you can, and finding ways to apply it to your writing. You get to experience the highs and lows for the first time, and it only gets better from there.
You get to see the writing world with fresh eyes, and that’s a beautiful thing. Build off of your passion, continue to learn, and find ways to give back to the writing community. We are all here for each other, and we are thrilled you’re joining.
Now, be mindful of your time, beginner. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of writing and lose focus of things that matter in your life. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a ton of new things all at once or you’ll risk burning out, but still challenge yourself and learn what you can. There will be time to get to all your ideas, just take it one word at a time.
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