by Nomsa Chirisa
How to start writing
Writing is a creative process that expands the concrete representations embodied in our thoughts. In book publishing, we say, “everyone has a story inside them,” but writing it depends on your idea. Every other detail in your story is there to feed and cushion the idea so that it serves its purpose to the reader. While there are many starting points in the journey of writing, you only need to figure out what works best for you.
I was recently approached with the question, “I want to be a writer, but where do I start?” There is a general misconception that writing requires tons of content, but a story is only as good as its idea. You do not need to gather lots of content for you to start writing, but you develop your script as you go. You simply need to start. For beginners, the focus is not the length of your work but the idea and its goal. So, let us look at the ideal starting points for aspiring and writing beginners.
This is one of the most common and easiest ways to start your writing career. The best part with writing articles is that you are spoilt for choice. Publications such as newspapers, magazines, blogs, journals, and trade publications are made up of articles on various subjects. The word count per article is less or more than a thousand words. We all have our interests in certain topics and subjects. With the world steering towards an information society, countless books covering a wide range of topics and discussions are being published daily. Pick a niche, and focus on it. You would be surprised at how fun it is to write articles. Further, the satisfaction that comes with achieving your writing goals through an article is tremendous. The world wants to hear what you have to share – and articles are just the way to go.
Telling your story through a poem is a good starting point to writing. For beginners, poetry is not about length, but about the use of language to achieve a certain effect in the reader. The good thing about writing poems is its flexibility; it accommodates both fiction and nonfiction writers. I recently reviewed an anthology of poems. Among the others, my eye was drawn to a poem that was about a tree. The writer was stating facts about trees and exposing the different attitudes of people towards trees. While the writer used personification to evoke and hook the reader, he was merely detailing the realities which trees are exposed to and suggesting ideas on how we can save them. You could start with a single paragraph of about four lines and develop from that. Doing this helps you grasp the concept of poetry, making it easier to write more, and often.
Contributing a chapter in a book is a common way to start your career as a writer. This is most common in educational publishing which specialises in textbooks. Experts such as teachers in certain subjects write book chapters in their area of interest. If you are a new or aspiring writer, the way to go about it is to identify your area of expertise or interest. This way, you can share your best ideas, that you also enjoy talking about. Countless textbooks and literature books, especially anthologies of short stories or poems have been written by various authors. For instance, you can contribute to a science book by writing a chapter on photosynthesis. In scholarly publishing, scholars are mostly lecturers who write a chapter or two for a journal. The bottom line is finding a topic in which you have expertise. You will find that writing on it is effortless and is more rewarding for your profession.
This method is quite similar to contributing a book chapter in your area of expertise, but with co-authoring or collaborating with another author, your contribution and role in the book are more immense than that in contributing a single book chapter. Co-authorship is collaborating with an author to create and develop content for a publication. An author generates a writing idea or concept while the co-author helps the author to develop the idea into substantial content. However, both parties are actively involved in the production and publishing of the book right up to dissemination. This is commonly known in book publishing as corresponding. If you are an expert in a specific area, it is best to collaborate with an established author in the same niche. This will increase your chances of being a reputable author and it will set you on the path to getting recognised in your career.
This is a new trend, especially on social media. Further to being a marketing strategy, short-form content is a growing avenue from which you can start your writing career. There are writers on Instagram who post such content and they have a large following. Although it has been argued on online platforms that these are social media posts rather than flash content from writers, their nature goes beyond quotes, pictures, or promotional content. They are more of excerpts and a sneak peek into a writer’s content. Starting with this way enables you to expand and develop your idea into a full story, article, or book. An example is:
“Long distance doesn’t work,” they said.
The two best friends in different cities smirked,
Knowing that distance couldn’t tear them apart.
– The writing spook
Writers are creators not only of content but of publications too. To get started, the first thing is finding what interests you or what you are an expert in. If you opt not to contribute an article or chapter towards a book, leverage this by starting your own book which you will have full control over. This way, you write and publish a personalised book which will be much easier to write, compile or publish. Contributing to a book or creating the book yourself are amazing ways to start your journey into writing. Either way, it gets the job done. After all, writing is all about fixing your thoughts into a tangible format. A few words a day for beginners does it, and before you know it, you have already developed a writing habit. So, what writing ideas do you have?
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