Hopefully, now we’re in full swing of summer (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere), you have more time on your hands. Here’s your chance to get back in the practice of writing more. You can dust off that old work in progress, or give yourself a fresh start with a brand new project – especially if you’re in a writing camp.
Both exciting and daunting, starting a new project means endless potential. Here’s a few things to keep in mind when beginning a new work in progress.
Know what your story is about
Obviously, this relates to plot. Something will happen in your story, and you need to know what that is. But looking beyond just the events of your plot, what’s your story going to be about? Answering this question can aid in navigating your narrative. Themes, messages, desires – what do you want the focus to be?
If you’re stuck, going back to that question will help you find your way. For example, maybe you want your story to be about pride. Perhaps you’ve written a scene in which your main character just got publically ridiculed at school. If you’re stuck figuring out what happens next, take a look back at your focal point. This might be the time for them to stand up for themselves, swallow their pride, and face their bullies face on.
Your first draft will be your worst
I have a very complicated relationships with first drafts. A perfectionist at my core, I want everything to be ready to ship off to a publisher the second its on the page, but that’s rarely the reality. Writing a first draft is only the beginning of a long, arduous journey of rewrites and editing.
Realistically, your first draft might be a hot piece of garbage. And that’s okay. It doesn’t need to be good, it just needs to be written. There’s a beauty in the fact that a first draft can be shoddy and slapped together, while still laying the groundwork for a great piece of writing. So go easy on yourself when cranking out that first draft; you can go back and fix things any time.
Write what you want to write
You don’t need to impress anyone with this project, especially when starting out. Have fun with it! This is your time to go crazy with your writing, so put what you think would be cool on the page. Besides, if your first draft will inevitably be your worst, you might as well make something ridiculous and enjoyable.
The old phrase used to say, “write what you know”. Now, there seems to be a shift in the writing community, instead adopting the approach “write what you would want to read”. Writing what you know can sometimes be limiting, but creating a story you find exciting can come more naturally and broaden your creative horizons.
Go easy on yourself
Writing is hard. You’re building an entire world full of characters, each with their own individual lives and desires. In addition, you’re weaving these lives together while maintaining a cohesive narrative. It’s a lot to keep track of, and getting blocked at some point will likely happen.
Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself the grace to take breaks when you need them. Writing a first draft in “x” amount of time will not make or break your writing career. Set realistic goals, and if life gets in the way and prevents you from meeting one or two, shrug it off and keep writing. You can write at your own speed without penalty.
is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Graduating in May 2020 with a degree in English Literature with a Writing Emphasis, Ian writes comics, poetry, and scripts. He is currently an intern for The Brain Health Magazine and aims to work in the comic publishing industry. In his spare time, Ian plays Dungeons & Dragons, board games, and bass guitar.