Everything you read starts as an idea, and for the successful writer the key is to learn how to start writing and stay writing so you can develop that idea into a finished product.
No One Strategy Is Right for Everyone
No one strategy works to keep writers writing. Even creative types aren't all wired in the same way. Some enjoy working on multiple projects at the same time, while others want to focus on one piece at a time. The important thing for anyone who wants to write for a living or hopes to finish that book they're working on is to find a plan that works for them.
If you want to learn how to start writing and stay writing, one of the first things to do is make a plan. For example, if you want to write a novel, your plan will include writing as well as other aspects that influence what you write and how long your manuscript needs to be. This information will be found in the guidelines. In this case, start writing your book. When you've written all you can for the day, take a break and peruse writers' markets. Look for publishers who publish your genre. Make a list of possibilities and check their guidelines. Do this each day until you have a list of publishers you hope to target. If they require manuscripts of 55,000-75,000 words, break this amount into smaller achievable goals depending on how long you want to take to finish the book.
To keep things simple, let say you decide on 60,000 words. If you break this into 12 months, that means you need to write 5,000 words per month or a little more than 1,000 words in a week. Having a target like this is one way writers learn to start writing and stay writing until the book is complete.
Writers who make their living by freelancing definitively must keep writing whether they feel like it or not. It's their bread and butter. Some freelancers find it helpful to work on multiple projects at the same time so that when they get tired of one, or run into writer's block, they switch gears and work on something else. When they come back to the project they put on hold, they have a fresh perspective and the creativity to finish the project.
How to Start Writing and Stay Writing Short Stories
The short story writer is probably one of the most challenged when it comes to consistently writing. Each new story requires a new idea complete with character and plot development. When you're on a roll, a first draft can be completed within a matter of hours, but what do you do to come up with your next idea?
Ideas to Keep you Writing
The thing you need to keep writing is new ideas. Here are a few ways to keep your muse pumping out stories, articles and novels:
- Writer's prompts and exercises are a familiar source of creativity for all writers, but they are an exceptional tool for the short story writer.
- Peruse markets and contests to see what they are looking for. Often reading through the writer's guidelines will spark the idea for a new story.
- Keep a journal. Even when you're not writing a piece of fiction, creative non-fiction or an informative article, writing in your journal keeps you writing. Not only that, but you may be surprised by the ideas journal writing inspires.
- Keep a notepad by your bedside. As your brain unwinds at the end of the day and your about to drift off to sleep, it is not unusual for the writer to experience an epiphany. All of a sudden they see clearly what they need to do to continue to write, what their character needs to face, how to solve that plot problem and other such golden moments only a writer can truly relate to. The problem is that many writers think their idea is so awesome that there is no way they will forget it, but tragically in the morning all they know is that they did have a great idea. Notice the past tense. Because it wasn't written down, it is lost in the Land of Dreams without the magic key to open the door. Having a notepad by the bed lets you jot down a few words; that's the key that will jog your memory in the morning.
- Read a book. Reading the works of another writer is often the springboard to new ideas.
- Join an online or local writer's group where you can rub elbows with other writers. This is a great place to brainstorm, share your work and find a way to keep on writing. One word of caution though. Don't post any of your work to an online writer's group unless it is password protected. Otherwise, a publisher will consider your work previously published and it may make you ineligible for acceptance by your market of choice.
- Change your environment. If you're stuck, step outside. If you have a laptop, take it with you. If you don't have one, bring a pen and paper.
In order to start writing and stay writing, you have to find what works for you. It may be any one of the ideas shared in this article or a combination thereof. Whatever it takes, use it. Keep yourself motivated. Set those goals and give yourself a target, and then find your source of inspiration and write!