You Already Know How to Write
I see a lot of new writers ask, “How do I learn how to write?”
They ask it directly of writers, and they ask it indirectly when they read a lot of articles and posts about writing.
I think a lot of people put the cart before the horse.
The best way to learn writing is to write.
No one can tell you how to do it; you have to learn for yourself.
New writers might also ask, “How do I write a book?” and “How much should I write?” You write a book however you want; you should write as much as you can. There are very good suggestions out there, of course, but ultimately, you have to figure out what works for you.
And reading helps. But it won’t get you anywhere unless also you hit the keys.
Writing groups help. But if you’re not careful, they can also be a distraction. I know I’ve gone on Twitter to post one tweet about writing, and found myself scrolling away for longer than I expected — basically, wasting a potential writing session. Social media is designed to be addictive. Can you make great friends and discoveries on social media? Of course. Can you also procrastinate? Absolutely.
Something I also see from new writers when they ask for advice is that they are not so much looking for tips, but looking for validation. They want to know that they’re on the right track. They want someone to say, “If you write from 6–8 p.m. every night in your pajamas, with an extra hour on each full moon, you will make it. It happened to me, and it can happen to you.”
But no one can guarantee that. You can learn a lot from successful writers, but you can’t always reproduce their success in the exact same way. That door closes behind them. You have to find your own.
We all want to find the “life hack,” the shortcut, the secret. Why play in hard mode when we could unlock easy mode? But writing is always on hard mode. Only by practicing do we ever really learn and improve.
How do you know if you’re writing correctly? There’s no real right or wrong way. (If you’re trying to write for a publication, then follow their guidelines, but everything else is up to you.) You have to listen to the little voice inside you, that spark of creativity that will tell you where to go. It’s faint, so you have to quiet your feelings of self-doubt in order to make out what it’s saying. But if you can manage to hear it, it will lead you down the right path.
How do you know if your writing is any good? Write, and when you’re ready, ask your readers to tell you. But until then, trust yourself.
How do you become a writer? Open up a blank word document. Put your fingers on the keyboard. Write.