My first week as a ‘proper writer’

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Pretending to be a writer. #equipped

Wow, that feels strange to write down. Technically, I’ve been writing various articles on my own blogs / elsewhere over the last couple of years.

Somehow, though, creative writing seems like ‘the proper stuff’ to me. PS. No disrespect to the many, fantastic, non-creative-writing authors, writers and journalists out there. It’s not you, it’s me.

Shortly after starting my most recent blog, seeing as I’ve gotten back into the habit of writing daily (🤞🏽), I figured what better time to ride this wave and get started on my own short story. Eek.

Some background information… I loved creative writing as a kid (primary school and the beginning of secondary school). I’ve not done it since then. Like, at all. Except if you count the couple of times when I’ve literally GOT THE INSPIRATIONNN 💪🏽💪🏽💪🏽… for about 5 minutes. And a few lines later, the writing stops. One time, I even started writing a script for Toy Story 3 (back when just 1 & 2 had been released, obviously). True story.

Anywhoozle*, here’s what’s gone down so far, in my first week as a writer:

(*I stole this word from Amy Schumer)

The research phase
Before I got started, theres was a whole big mental hurdle for me to jump through. *Was I ready for this?!* Given my track record with research (#AnalysisParalysis), this could prove to me a major roadblock.

I’d done pretty much zero creative writing for about 15 years. Surely, I needed to do a course, right? Right?!

My options extended from the extreme (an MA in Creative Writing) to the lighter (a book, online course).

In a quick-fire moment of inspiration, I reached out on Twitter to a friendly face. I’d come across Lauren Sapala previously, when I’d gone on an introvert-author binge shortly after my “I’m an introvert” discovery. She calls herself The INFJ Writer, so this felt appropriate now more than ever (she’s only one letter away from INFP me!).

A couple of posts on her blog had confirmed that I liked this chick, a lot. Lauren is a writing coach, and she writes a lot about INFJs, INFPs and highly-sensitive people, and works with them too.

I DM’d her the following…

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… desperately hoping for the answer I so wanted. And I got it:

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Boom! She went on to recommend this book, and also this guy, who’s writing a short story every week for 52 weeks(?!?!):

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Philip’s website is here, and I’ll be checking out his stories + his process, along with of the techniques he also writes about.

However, I didn’t wanna get sucked into RESEARCH, like my typical self. What Lauren said about classes + courses inhibiting writers resonated; whilst it’s valuable to learn basic processes, too much of this “learning” can, I feel, stifle your own creative voice.

PS. I’m glad I didn’t open this email beforehand, as that could’ve opened up a whole new Aladdin’s cave that I didn’t need:

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To my credit, I did something I don’t do often enough. I just got started.

Story ideas
Again, in the past, I’ve come up with ideas for various weird and wonderful stories. Or rather, part-ideas, as they weren’t fully-formed by any means. And then – just not got started, or fizzled out very quickly.

This time, I drafted 3 or 4 story ideas. And – with my new found ‘just do it’ attitude – I honed in on one of these, and start imagining in my head how this might potentially pan out. I had quickly moved onto the next phase.

Fleshing out a (very) loose outline
The researcher in me wanted to read up on ‘planning your story’, to read about 3-Act Structures, and Character Development, and Sub-plots, and such. I figured I could read about that stuff as I need to / as it came up.

Woo, woo! There was no stopping this steam train, baby… 🚂

The researcher in me wanted to read up on ‘planning your story’, to read about 3-Act Structures, and Character Development, and Sub-plots, and such. I figured I could read about that stuff as I need to / as it came up.

I scribbled down a quick, basic spider diagram with my central character in the middle – aka the guy who this whole short story would be about – Joel:

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Squiggled out a key “secret” in the story 🙂

And then…

Pen to paper
Resisting the temptation to get all of the details down, from detailed character descriptions, through to a detailed start-to-finish outline… I just started writing. Hell I didn’t even know exactly where this story was going.

I just put pen to paper. I let the words flow. Until I hit a bump, then went away, and came back to it the next day. Whilst there’s no hard-and-fast rule for me – I’ve been writing for less than a week! – and one-hour blocks seem to be working OK at the moment. Any more than that and I can start to feel a bit stuck / creatively worn out.

I’ll be honest, I’m kinda winging it here. Making up this story as it goes along. This probably isn’t the ideal way to do things. I’m unlikely to be winning any literary awards for this piece of art. My story may well end up in a mess, and a week from now I may be crying in the bathtub a-la Ace Ventura, realising I have a lot of loose ends which are just hanging there waiting to be tied up (kinda like what happened to Lost. Oh that show.).

But, I don’t care. Or at least, I’m trying not to care. Because usually I care too much. I really just want to learn-by-doing, to keep moving forward, this only being my first story ‘n all.

There’ve been a couple of times when I’ve had to pause, and do a quick re-cap on the main characters, added a character here and there, scribbled things out, etcetera.

It’s not been clean. It’s not been pretty. But there’s been progress. And for me, that feels like the most important thing right now.

A note on genre
I had a brief moment of panic/confusion when I realised that my story fitted no obvious genre(s). First, I familiarised myself with the basic ones. Hmm, no obvious fit. I quickly googled a couple of my favourite films that don’t have an obvious genre (confession: I know watch more films than I read books), to see what genres they had been placed under, and realised all was OK in the world. Turns out, my story is a mix of drama and mystery.

Where I’m currently at
– Basic outline / prep work
– Handwritten 21 A5 pages

Stuff I’ve found useful this week:
– Just start writing!
Lauren Sapala’s blog

✏️ Written: Thursday, 8th March 2018 @ 7.07pm

A.B. Guy | articles | newsletter 💌

What about you?
Are you a pen-to-paper writer, or a straight-to-the-keyboard writer? Are you a planner or a just-wing-it kinda writer? I’d love to know your style 😎 And… do you remember what writing your first story (as an adult) was like?!

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23 thoughts on “My first week as a ‘proper writer’

  1. Hi, A.B. Guy. 🙂 First, thanks for visiting my blog and following and for the encouragement in my writing endeavors. I can definitely understand your dilemma starting out having not written in fifteen years. Until 2014, it had been nearly 18 years since I’d written last, and so, when I started up again, it was actually exciting and a sense of relief that I could still write. lol I think the way you’re going about it is fine. When I first started writing again, I just wrote from stream of consciousness, and believe it or not, about 95% of the time, that worked out fine. When I started up writing again in 2014, I also went back to college for an English Creative Writing undergraduate degree. I’m in my last year (in fact, four classes to go to graduate! Woohoo!).

    I am a pencil to paper writer the majority of the time. I’ve only written two stories directly from the keyboard. I find creativity, ideas, and flow without inner critic ramblings work best writing on paper first. There are a few blog posts of mine you might find helpful. They are the one on Pen and Paper vs Keyboard and Finish What You’ve Started. You can find them at these links in case you’re interested:

    https://dotluvs2write.com/2018/02/12/writing-longhand-with-a-pen-pencil-vs-typing-on-a-keyboard-for-creating-stories/

    https://dotluvs2write.com/2018/02/21/finish-what-youve-started/

    Best wishes on your writing! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello Dot – thanks so much for your comment, and for the reassurance! I really enjoy stream-of-consciousness writing, and journalling really helps me on a personal level (away from fiction writing).

      And thank you for sharing those two articles of yours, I’ll have a read. “I find creativity, ideas, and flow without inner critic ramblings work best writing on paper first” – I can totally relate! 👌🏽 ✨

      Congrats on nearly finishing your course! Sounds like a major milestone. How do you think it has affected you, as a writing? Has it given you more of a (subconscious?) awareness of structure/the process, informing your stream-of-c writing? I’m curious.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! I’ve learned a lot in my classes. Not just the writing classes but the history and humanities classes. Loved them. 🙂 The writing classes helped me to learn the structure and process of writing, as you mentioned, understanding characters and developing them, the details and descriptions for characters and for the setting, scenes, that your first draft is just taking down your thoughts onto paper and that it’s not meant to be written perfectly the first time. There are many things. How to write a short play, point of view, voice, etc. 🙂 As far as affecting my stream of consciousness writing, it may have a little. I’ve learned the importance of taking notes and doing kind of what you did with the outline/web. But even if you take the notes and make the outline, you still have to write it out, and I do tend to be more careful on what I write up than I used to. Although there are times I will just write something down and it’ll lead to a story and work out well. Overall, though, I’d say it has had an affect on how I write a story. It’s more of an awareness in structure, dialogue, characters, etc. in what I’m writing than before I took the classes. Hope this all makes sense and helps!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m glad you enjoyed them – and the variety! All of this absolutely does make sense and I’m *so* grateful for your taking the time to write all of this out. I’m going to go with the flow. Perhaps I will end up taking a course. We can always learn. I’ve recently signed up to a Screenwriting course on FutureLearn – haven’t gotten started on it yet! Wishing you a great weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Although I sometimes think about writing a story, I don’t think I will be able to do it as I can’t decide on what characters are like etc. Once we had to come up with a story at school and I was that person who constantly felt the need to change details. Even with blog posts, if I try planning them, I am just constantly changing them, until recently when I am started “winging-it directly from keyboard” which works in getting something written regardless if they are good or bad :p

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m winging-it with this story! Once you’ve gotten a bit more used to writing blog posts without changing them… try that for a story. It’s the same principle. PS. That’s totally normal – many of us writers are critical perfectionists!

      Like

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog and following me, A.B. Guy! I enjoyed reading this. It brought me back to my own struggles about writing. I did take an online course and in the process had an article I wrote for an assignment published in a local newspaper. It was about a local pastor whose idea of fun is to be a licensed nuisance alligator trapper. I wrote a couple more human interest stories for the paper, but didn’t like deadlines, so I quit. Then I started a daily gratitude project on FB that was supposed to be for the month of Thanksgiving and lasted over a year. It was like journaling without all the angst. It became my first book, a non-fiction inspirational/autobiographical/devotional. Talk about not finding a genre that fits!

    Since then, I’ve been a pantser — as opposed to outliner — and I’ve written a YA Scifi series of four books. I do a LOT of research, but it’s research about strange and wonderful places on our own planet and includes episodes of Ancient Aliens and What In The World, and people with strange abilities, and strange phenomena. Research is fun for me, and I have to be careful not to get lost in it.

    You’re doing the right thing. To be a writer, just WRITE, and that stream of consciousness will grow into something amazing that you’ve birthed and developed and the rest of the world will enjoy reading. Oh, and while you’re writing, turn off the inner editor and let it flow. You can always go back and edit later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello PTL – and likewise! Thank you so much for commenting, and sharing your own early & latter experiences. It’s reassuring that you’re a pantser… and that your book emerged almost without your realising it! I, too, enjoy learning and research – it can be a good and a bad thing!

      Thank you for the support and encouragement. I’m trying to just get the first draft down without editing… though I did succumb and start typing it up just today – it’s been helpful to take stock, re-iterate the story, and continue to weave things in. I’m winging it, but it’s working so far, kinda!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m definitely pen to paper – ideas just seem to flow more easily, and I get stuck less than when I go straight for the laptop. I try to plan, but… more often than not I’m winging it, though I’m trying to break that habit. I think planning is pretty important, especially since I tend to forget ideas if I don’t note them down. Good luck with your endeavours, it seems you’re off to a great start!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing this! I totally agree. I *did* start typing up my story yesterday… as I like the idea of being able to move bits of text around / make amendments, additions etc. Kinda making it up as I go along right now. Thank you for the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the follow and when it comes to storytelling for me especially narrative poetry I need to defiantly put pen to paper so I have the motor movements to help my mind go to different directions but still trying to understand where I’m headed. If you check out my page the last narrative poem I wrote is called “The Walk Home” check it out. So to answer both questions, pen to paper and planner for me when it comes to writing a story. Peace

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m a pen to paper writer and then I do my edits when I type. I’m old-fashioned in that way, but there is scientific evidence that links physical writing and brain function. I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts anyway. One exception to this is my blog. That is usually a free flow thought and a quick once-over-proofread before editing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Elaine, thanks for sharing 🙂 Yes, for my blog I write by hand, and then type/edit simultaneously. I’m doing that for my story too, but I’d imagine there’ll be various re-jigging/editing steps!

      Like

  7. I used to be pen-to-paper, especially as a kid when I didn’t have consistent access to a computer (early 90s, ha!). But, once my parents got a decent home computer, I started slowly typing things up. Now, I type almost everything. Part of me wants to get back to pen and paper more often, though. My cursive handwriting is suffering because I use a computer for my full-time job, plus my blog, plus my personal writing. I need to give the keyboards a break for a bit. I have a simple Dollar Tree composition notebook titled “Laura Beth’s Novels Notebook” that I carry everywhere, and I’m starting to use it more, especially when I’m places where I have to wait a while (medical appointments, etc.). It gets me off my phone, and lets my eyes and brain relax a little!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, technologically seems to have taken over the world! I fill up pages and pages with my writing lol, I write pretty much everything before typing (blog and story-wise). I spend enough time on the computer though – and I really need to be conscious of my posture/how I sit!

      Like

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