Writing Tips for Beginners

9 Totally not scary, solid pieces of advice to get started on your writing

By Jessica Militello

So there are some of you out there that has a writer within you, but you wonder if your ideas are any good, who even cares what you think or know, you tell yourself that surely there are others who have had the same idea and already made it and probably did a better job than you ever could, you wonder how to even get started,  if it’s a waste of time, and before you know it, you just talked yourself out of doing something you wanted. 

Now before you start judging yourself please know this is very common and it is very important to know that for this reason your new ideas will never stand a chance against your inner critic if you don’t have a good plan to go against it. It’s like going against a seasoned lawyer in court and your positive thoughts are being defended by Joe Pesci’s character in My Cousin Vinny.

But! if you’ve ever watched that classic film, then you know there is hope- not just for the guy who technically never took his Bar exam, but also for you to do what it is you want, which in this particular article is write. So here is some pretty solid and not too scary advice on how to at least get started on some writing, whether you have your sights set on writing a book, poetry, articles, whatever you want.

  1. Figure out what it is you want to do and do it.

What does that mean for you? If you write poetry, you’re a poet. If you write articles on new restaurants in your area, you’re a writer. Don’t let fancy titles, degrees, how much or if you are getting paid for something make you think you aren’t legit. How many times have you followed a blog or read a book where the author said they started it just because, and because they were being true to themselves it just took off. Don’t psyche yourself out, if you have something you want to make or feel you have something to share with the world-then do it. Which brings me to my next point.

2.Don’t let the money or lack thereof deter you.

Now this piece of advice needs to be very clear-if you are hired for any kind of writing work, then your time is precious, your work is valuable, work for “exposure” is a fucking lie, and in 2020 not only is that magazine or website in a pandemic-you are too, so don’t take any shit about “pandemic rates,” or reduced rates. Their business being in a pandemic does not equal a five-finger discount via your mind for cheap words and ideas. But what I mean by this point is, do the work you want to do, understand that building a client base, or what ever you are pursuing takes time, and pursuing anything is a process that will not be a yellow brick road into a money pit.

3. Nothing you come up with is going to be something no one has ever written about. Write it anyway.

Even the first inventors of light, the wheel, what ever, got their inspiration from something that already existed. Is anything truly original? When I came up with the idea for this article I knew for a fact that the same topic has probably been covered dozens of times. Are there more experienced, even better writers than me who wrote about this? Of course- but I’m not competing with anyone else, I’m writing what I want, what I feel others can relate to, in a way that makes me happy and fulfilled.

4. But maybe you’re worried about where to get your inspiration from

Don’t overthink it. We literally have millions of thoughts everyday and amazingly the majority of those millions of thoughts are actually the same ones that we allow to swirl around in our mind. Have you found yourself googling questions to some of these recurring inner monologues or simple curiosities and either you couldn’t really find the exact answer to the question or weren’t satisfied with what you found? Well-there you go, you just found a topic. But maybe you have a topic and still feel a bit overwhelmed or stuck-which brings me to my next point.

5. When you have writers block or don’t know how to get started

200 words a day, my friend. So technically this isn’t actually my own advice, but I can’t remember what famous writer said this, so credit to the dead writer that I once read said this but can’t remember who \_0_/. This has to be the most solid and procrastination-proof advice. I mean c’mon, 200 words takes maybe a few minutes and the time you lament wasting on social media or ruminating about the past and future can totally be used for this instead. There is nothing to add to this. I have spoken.

6. Time is a social construct. You have time.

Okay, so I don’t really know anything about time being a social construct, these are just the things that amuse me to say, but to continue from my last point- even if you found an extra hour in the morning, or on the train to work, or in the bathroom away from your desk (kidding-then again if you spent an hour a day in the bathroom at work, you probably would get fired and then really you’d actually have tons of time to write, but also, bills and food would still be a thing so maybe don’t) but seriously, imagine if you spent even 30 minutes every day writing 200 words. That’s 200×7 which is already 1400 words, times 4 weeks in a month, which is a lot of work in just a month all from a little time management.

7. If you start out writing on one topic and start divulging into many others

Then go! Keep going- write it all out, your mind wants to be free and you have more to talk about then you thought. Write everything you want and worry about it later-unless you are doing work on a deadline to be sent to a client or editor for publication, it really doesn’t matter. (Side note- I think I am going to do another one of these pieces specific to advice for writing an article, including sticking to the topic on a deadline help)  You may end up falling into a whole other topic and you can clean it up or make it into multiple chapters/pieces of work later. It does not matter how off into the weeds you go or how long you take to finish anything; that’s for you to know and that’s all there is to it.

8. Thinking of what others will think of your work as you’re writing it

If you are worrying about what people will think of your writing, how others will perceive you, and if your words are going to be interesting enough, you’re only going to mess yourself up and get writer’s block. This happens to me a lot, particularly when I’m starting out with what I’m writing and part of it goes back to the advice in number 5. Normally after I catch myself doing this, I just take a breath and write it out however it is sitting in my mind. This at least gets you started and you can fix it up or change it afterward.

9. Worrying what people will think of your work after you wrote it

I felt compelled to add this one based on experience after I started sharing writing that was in my own tone and based on personal experience. I worried about how/if my humor came across, if my articles were too long, if my cursing (which was refreshing to write how I really talk) was too much or seemed too crass- pretty much I was worried about people judging me for who I truly am. These feelings are normal; you’re gonna want to go back and edit things that you’re afraid sound stupid or too honest. But the fact that I feel self-conscious tells me its what I need to share, not just for myself, but for others to know that we all go through the same doubts and fears. There are legitimate things that you should focus on for your reader-clarity, conciseness, general flow of the article, grammar- worrying about what people will think of you or if you sound silly is not one of them. If people like your writing-amazing, if not, then they just aren’t your demographic. In this instance, its important to remember what inspired you and why you feel compelled to share it.

Okay- so that’s nine pretty good (in my opinion) pieces of advice to at least help you get over yourself and all your overthinking to at least get started. Stop procrastinating- do what makes you happy. Life is way too short to not do the things you want because you’re worried about what someone else will think. People are always going to have opinions-some good, others bad- so fuck it, might as well aim to impress yourself. Good luck!

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