I want to write. I want to be a writer. But I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know how to start.
When I was Commissioning editor, asking people to write, it was part of my role to deal with the questions raised above. However, they were often of a technical nature, advising on structure, process and pointing out that the deadline I had given them was as important as the starting and beginning. There were two types of projects, those I initiated and those from writers. Both types meant that something had already been decided. There is a non-technical question that either an author or myself had already made.
As a would be writer or author, or in the broader sense storyteller, the very first thing you should ask yourself is ‘what do I want to say?’ This question was always the first one to deal with when I was a publisher. It is also the question I return to time and time again as I approach a new story.
In the beginning
Deciding what you want to say is the place that you should always begin. We can have a desire to write and yet have no idea where and how to start. Simply answering this question will begin to unlock the next steps for you.
How do you choose what you want to say though? It is often said that you should write about what you know. So in one sense what you want to say will be based on what you know. And, if you don’t know you can find out! It’s also why one of the biggest tips for writers is to read and read and then read some more. The more you know the more you’ll be able to tell the story. If you read horror, sci-fi or any genre, you’ll already know a lot about them, you’ll find it easier to write.
We also know our own experiences, love, our history, our past. It is here that we begin to touch on something very important. There are many stories and manuscripts that remain unfinished. This is because the projects are started with great enthusiasm, but then interest is lost. As a publisher I needed to look for additional writers or to myself to finish manuscripts on more than one occasion.
Write about what moves you
Our own experiences are by nature personal and emotive. We are moved by them. That’s why I think it is better to decide to say something about what moves you and what excites you than just about something you know. What you are moved by is better, you’ll be inspired to create and learn. Your story will be about what you are moved by.
Story bigger than writing
This is broader than just writing. This is telling a story. You don’t need to restrict it to writing, or fiction. This is why choosing what you want to say is so important and such a vital decision to make. Form follows function. Your story may not be a book. Your story could be song, it could be poetry, it could be any visual medium.
If you know what you want to say, or what you want to talk about your story will begin to take shape. It will be defined by your choice. You begin and start by deciding what you want to say. It might seem very basic and too simple, but if you are asking the questions above then this is the answer.
A question for you
What do you want to say?