First Things First: Part 1

(In this short 3-part series of posts, I intend to share the first three most helpful things I have learned about developing skill as a beginning writer)

First Things First– Part 1: Writers Write

I had a parent of one of my music students ask me a question today. He asked, “How is she doing?”

My response: “How is she practicing?”

That may sound like dodging. Maybe it was, but the truth is that anything you want to do well, takes time doing it. When I decided to attempt to make a living writing. One of the first bits of advice I heard– I heard it from every blog and book that I saw– was this: Write every day. This was actually one of those tips that, when I heard it, I immediately thought, “That sounds nice. Now, what about the real tips?” I wanted something that seemed quicker. Something a little more microwave and a little less crock-pot. But as I have begun this whole writing adventure I can finally see why everyone harps on this habit:

The only way to write better is to write more, better.

Since this first writing tip is vague, here are some things you can do to get started. I promise that this is the single most important habit any writer can start. So, here you go:

1. Don’t worry about quantity OR quality… at first. You’re probably thinking, “Ok now that is even more vague. I don’t even get a number to hit?” Instead of focusing on quality or quantity, focus on frequency. Write every time you think about writing. It can be a sentence, paragraph, or even a fragment. Just get things down, often. I “write” everyday. But the real truth is that I am writing all day. Little things here and there, I will scribble down, type into my phone, post, or tweet. Don’t aim for a lot. Aim for often.

2. Journal. The single best way to start your daily writing habit is to journal. There is ALWAYS something to write about if you look to that day’s events and interactions for inspiration. I was hesitant to do this at first because it seemed so pointless. Why would I write something that I never planned to share? Well after deciding that, just maybe, I didn’t know as much about this as all the actual successful writers who’s advice I was reading, I just started doing it anyway. The pay-off was immediate and unexpected. So, much inspiration!

3. Make time. Mine is at 5:00 every morning.  When I started this, I used this time to strictly journal, especially when I saw a story forming from my life’s events. Now, though, it is usually used for inspiration and rants and blog ideas. The difficult thing is to keep that “sacred” for my daily writing habit and not use it to get “real” work done. For you, it might be different once you start getting some kind of writing job, but I think daily unrestricted writing practice is essential to making clients happy in the long run. After all, you are making yourself better!

4.Find a method that works for you. There are so many tools out there! Journals, apps, web clients, and notecards all come in different shapes and sizes. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to choose just one. So don’t! Use a few different methods for a while and see which one inspires you most. I’ve used several different apps and notebooks. Hopefully, I can review some of my favorite daily writing tools for you to get. These are NOT tools for editing or publishing. They are just great tools that get out of the way and let you write away!

Tomorrow is part 2. It’s a strange one, but a great one nonetheless. See you then!

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