3 things I wish I knew about writing when I started
We write all the time. We write letters, emails, text messages, sticky notes, shopping lists… you get the idea. But some of us want more from writing. We don’t want to limit ourselves to just writing useful notes or urgent text messages – we want to write to tell a story. Inspire readers, share ideas, convey thoughts, explore feelings and emotions. We want to create worlds and creatures beyond imagination… OK, I should stop.
I love studying human behaviour – it was one of the reasons why I began writing. The thought of writing about people’s character and how it changes under difficult circumstances enthused me. I found myself conjuring stories about people in various situations from a tender age, and I never stopped. Some call it an overactive imagination, but I like to think of it as the Creative Gene. Of course, there’s no such thing as the Creative Gene but it is a comforting lie I tell myself regularly.
My journey to writing, like most authors, was not comfortable and after writing multiple novels, short stories, blogs and articles, there are a few things I wished I knew about writing when I started.
1 – Don’t rush
It sounds like an obvious cliché, but it is probably the most important lesson I learned in writing. For some reason, many of us associate and limit our understanding of what art is to drawings and paintings, but there are so many forms of art – writing happens to be one of them.
You wouldn’t expect a famous artist to rush his drawing just to get it done – it would be reflected in the art. So why is this different in writing?
Words make sentences, sentences make paragraphs, paragraphs make pages and pages make books. If you rush this process, you will create a rushed book. Simple.
Slow down – there’s no rush. There might be times where you need to meet a tight deadline, but generally, you have time – so take your time. Enjoy the process of finding the most suitable words – use your creative flair to make every word count – don’t steam through it to get it done. It will get done when it gets done. You need to keep going at a steady pace. Consistency and patience play a significant role in successful writing.
2 – Some of us are plotter, and some of us aren’t
When I started to research about what makes a good writer or what makes a good story, I continually stumbled on the importance of plotting. Outlining the entire story chapter by chapter.
Outlining did not come naturally to me, and I often got tangled up in it. It made me realise that I’m not a plotter. I don’t spend days or weeks creating outlines and planning characters – instead, I have a vague idea of the story (the beginning, conflict, climax and the ending). My focus is always on the characters themselves. I like to create realistic and interesting characters as they help the story take direction and shape.
3 – People aren’t perfect
When I think of a protagonist, Superman springs to mind, but his character was squeaky clean and that takes away from realism – because we’re not squeaky clean! We have flaws and those flaws often make stories exciting and relatable. Superman only survived because he wasn’t from Earth. If he were, he would have made selfish decisions, occasionally used his powers for his own desires, called in sick from saving the world from time to time and experienced some forms of depression.
I much prefer writing characters who are an accurate representation of humans. When I wrote the Refugee, the main character, Ahmed, was a kind, compassionate and honest man but when faced with difficult situations, he made decisions that only a human would make. Some were right while others were arguably wrong.
Well, there you have it! 3 things I wished I knew when I started writing, and I learned the hard way!