An Intro to Writing for Dummies

I’ve never really given much thought to how I write. I wouldn’t say I have a specific style or method when it comes to transferring my ideas from brain to paper, but after some thought, here are four “tips” I came up with. These are fairly basic, but they help me the most when it comes to writing.

#1. The Backwards Brainstorm.

Instead of sitting down to search for ideas, let them come to you wherever and whenever. If you have one spur of the moment, write it down. Don’t have the mentality that you’ll remember it; 9 times out of 10 you’ll forget everything as soon as you sit down to write. So if you’re in class, write the idea on the corner of your notes; if you’re on a hike, write it on your hand; if you’re at a restaurant, write it on a napkin. Don’t bypass even the smallest inspiration, regardless of how ridiculous or pointless it seems, ‘cause, who knows? You might find use for it later. Just remember a pen. Otherwise you’re screwed.

#2. Read a book. Or several.

Yes, I know, every other person and their mother’s cat says reading is a major part of writing, but that’s because it’s true. You can’t really be a writer and not read. That’s like being a pianist and not practicing; it just doesn’t work. That being said, don’t be the person who just reads one book and decides to call themselves a world class literate scholar, ‘cause we all know that’s a lie. Instead, read lots of books from all different genres and authors. Not only does this help your creative wheels start spinning, it’s also fun and can potentially improve the way you write.

#3. Embrace your inner madness. Visualize!

Visualizing is in my eyes one of the most important parts of creative writing. It enables you to paint a picture of the story you are creating, whether it be a fantasy world or simply a scene set in a coffee shop. There are different levels of visualizing, and I myself have done everything from simply closing my eyes to full on physically acting out a scene by myself in my bedroom. The latter might seem a little eccentric (ok, it’s downright weird), but I’ll admit, my best written works have come from just saying, “Screw it,” and throwing myself into the story. So if you’re not afraid of talking to yourself…have at it.

#4. Take food breaks.

“Too much of a good thing is a bad thing.” This applies just as much to writing as to anything else. Overusing your imagination is just as bad as overusing your energy or your Pandora skips. I highly recommend taking breaks, particularly after long periods of writing and especially if there’s food involved. Reward yourself for all those long hours spent trying to create a masterpiece. And when you hit one of those obnoxious brain blocks that keep you from progressing in your story, taking a short break or even stopping for the day can give your imagination time to relax and start running full speed again.

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