This is from an advice page I posted on my website, and I thought I would share it here. I hope it helps whoever reads it.
Taking on a writing project can be a daunting task. You need to take into consideration what kind of story you wish to write, how long you want it to be, and whether you will be satisfied with how it will turn out. If you are looking to be published, you also need to consider your publisher and whether your writing is the kind of stuff your publisher will want to distribute.
But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.
When taking on writing, consider these things:
* Genre (fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, mystery, political, etc.)
* The kind of writing piece you wish to create (short story, novel, epic, column, blog, etc.)
* The length of your story, article, etc.
I've talked to people who feel discouraged when they start writing because they feel they will never aspire to the levels of published authors and writers. To this I say it takes practice, practice, practice, practice (are you getting the idea here?), and more practice. My sixth-grade teacher put the value of practice in these words: "Practice makes Permanence", not "perfect", because no one is perfect. The more you practice your writing skills, the more permanent your skills will become, and your skills will grow into a developed writing style.
There are many benefits in developing your writing talent. Not only do you get to expand on your imagination and the skill of writing itself, but you pick up many other things along the way. You can learn more words, styles, and will be able to compare and contrast different writing styles and techniques with other writers.
(Note: the following advice applies mostly to short stories/book length stories)
So you want to write a story, and you have an idea in mind. Well, don't just let it float around in your head! Write down your ideas in a notebook or on the nearest piece of paper you can find. The more ideas you have, the more flexible your story can be, which will make it easier for you, the writer, to work with it.
Once you have your ideas, organize them. There are many ways to do this: you can write an outline, do a bubble chart, or work on it as you write. As an author I usually develop the story as I write and keep several ideas for the story down on paper. This gives me more room to work with the plot, character development, and the world in the book itself. I will admit, in the first draft this may be a little sloppy style to work with due to the tendency of creating irregularities and plot holes in the story, but don't worry about making your first draft as good as it can be. There will always be the editing process afterward.
Now that you have your organization and ideas, write! Paper, pen, and pencil is the traditional writing method, but a computer can be more convenient. If you are using Windows, the default word process is MS Word, which has several useful tools for formatting a document. If you want something free and just as good as MS Word, try Openoffice, an opensource software that includes spreadsheets, slideshows, and more as well as an excellent word processor. With a word processor the writing process is made faster and easier to edit and sort your work.
If you have a harder time typing, then the traditional writing method may be preferrable for you. There are many free resources online to learn how to type, as well as software for you computer you can get.
Here is one resource for learning how to type: www.freetypinggame.net
When you start writing, it's up to you to take it where you want it to go. If you are feeling discouraged or encounter the dreaded Writer's Block, make sure to ask yourself if writing is really what you want to do. If it is, continue to write down ideas and find your inspiration from the world around you. Don't be afraid to have other people look at your work and offer advice and critique for you work, and don't become offended if people do critique your work. Critique is one of the writer's most valuable tools: critique helps a writer know what is good and bad about their work so they can fix it, such as plot, grammar, and character development.
In my experience, writing was a very enjoyable thing to do from a very young age. I look back now at some of my first works and want to gag when I read them, but I do not regret writing them, because it was a beginning. The stories get better and better over time when practice, time, and hard work are put into writing.
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