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Right at the Beginning – Where to Start?

I’m sure this has happened to everyone:

“What do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Oh, right.”

Then their eyes glaze over almost immediately and you’ve lost them. Anyone can say they are a writer but not everyone follows through and actually does something about it. And because a lot of them are under the impression that you can stay at home all day and reap the huge benefits they become disillusioned.

Writing is not as easy as people think it is. Anyone can write a book, but can they write a book people will want to read? A lot of writers have active imaginations and they are spoilt for choice when wondering what to write. Writers work long hours, often for no thanks, and it takes longer than people think to write a full 100,000-word novel. It took me seven months to write a book back when I was fifteen and that was in the middle of studying for my GCSEs. We’ve all got commitments and sometimes writing has to take a backseat, which puts things off for longer.

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was fourteen. But I was realistic; I knew it wouldn’t pay the bills immediately and I would need to build myself a platform at different avenues I may not like so I’ve got some experience. Unfortunately writing and doodling did not help my A-levels. I got bad A-levels but with Mum’s help I managed to go through clearing and into university studying Creative Writing and Film Studies. Getting the degree felt good but I knew it wouldn’t kickstart me immediately. I would have to work around it and earn my living before I considered writing full-time.

The main issue I have, and I’m sure every other writer has this problem, is what do you write about? I’ve got so many ideas (watching films was usually the catalyst where I did an off-shoot in my head) but what should I work with first? Should I go with the first idea I ever thought of (if I can remember it!)? Or should I go with something else. So I made a list. Kid you not, I listed all the books I want to write in a certain order on Excel and after doing this so many times in the last two years I’m sticking to this one. And I think there’s about 500 on there! That would certainly keep me busy but it does make me look a bit mad, if truth be told. But at least I will have plenty of things to think about for the next 40 or so years.

We all just need a nudge. If we really want to write something, we should. We just need someone to give us that specific nudge, someone to keep us going. I don’t have anyone nudging me and maybe I should. I could probably get a lot more done than I have since I’m very good at procrastinating. But I do have something keeping me going. I want to tell people that I am a writer and I have been published and be able to show them. And now I’m jobless I’m kicking myself up the backside to make that happen.

So going back to the title – where to start. Start by actually putting what you want to write down. Put it anywhere, be it a small notebook or your computer. Commit yourself to writing it. The slog that comes with it will be tough, but coming out the other side feels incredibly sweet.


  • Janni Ke Janni Ke says:

    Great article! I’ve been trying to finish my first attempt of a book for the past 6 years… hah!!! So sad, really. I fear I might never actually finish it.

    • Katharine Budd Katharine Budd says:

      I read in Writing Magazine about a writing buddy and they set targets so they could compare notes and keep each other motivated. Maybe try that Janni, I’ve always wondered if I would work better if I had that :)

  • Your advice – “Start by actually putting what you want to write down” – is excellent. Friends often ask me how they should go about starting to write, and that’s always my answer: “Just write.” Write whatever comes into your head, whether it’s in a notebook or on your computer or on the back of an envelope. The ideas, and the form of your story or poem, will soon start to take shape, but it’s just as important to get into the habit of WRITING.
    Good luck!

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