For folks who saw the title and thought, The hell is he goin on about? I can’t even begin to describe it. Here…
So, yes. Practice. We’re talking about practice. Not the game. What you do before the game, which, in this case, the game is writing fiction. It’s an odd game with many facets, and rules that were actually meant to be broken in order to do it the best. It’s a weird game, played different ways by different people. Here’s how I get ready.
This is easier said than done, I know. But it gets easier as you go along. Don’t worry before you start, or once you get going, whether what you’re writing is any good. I’ll just tell you now: It’s not. NO ONE is brilliant on their first draft of anything. That’s why it’s called the writing process. A good writer goes over everything again and again and again, improving it each time.
Here’s a few things I like to do to get started on something brand new:
Relax, it’s fiction. I don’t hunt, nor do I own a firearm, nor do I have any urge to actually do these things. When writing fiction, most newer writers have a tendency to assume people will make some kind of personal or moral judgments about them based on their content, genre, or whatever. Don’t let what people might think about you affect what you write. Unlike my examples, what you brainstorm and write doesn’t have to be seen by anyone ever, unless you want them to see it. And when you ultimately do write something to completion, people will be more impressed that you wrote something with style and imagination than they would be weirded out by it.
Unless you’re even weirder than me.
Just like any kind of physical activity, you have to limber up before you write. Get the juices flowin, homie.
You can make lists of ideas when you don’t have an existing project to work on. Just the act of trying to come up with ideas stirs the imagination. Sometimes the first one is the best one, sometimes the last. And sometimes you’ll come back to a list and develop a different idea.
Free write, free write, free write. I love doing this. Even if it’s just to kill time or practice writing for the sake of writing. Free writes aren’t pretty, but they might be the most important tool in the box. One of them at least.
Some folks prefer to outline every scene before they even begin writing. If that’s how you roll, go get it–be happy in your process. But it’s not for me. Agree to disagree, and all that. I like making bullet points. This can be a whole story outline if you like, or you can (as I do) do it before each scene. I usually stop making bullets when my brain says, I can’t take it anymore! I have to start writing this!
When you’re fleshing out an idea, or you’re 50,000 words into a novel and you go: I’ve lost it. Where is this going? Lists, bullet points, and free writes will bring you where you need to be. If these don’t help you, then I have failed you and lost my honor.
Please say it isn’t so.
Take good care of yourselves!