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How to get comfortable with starting the writing process...

I recommend to a lot of people that have fantastic ideas for fun stories that they should start writing a short story, novella, book, blog or whatever. These are just average, every day people with cool imaginations and fun narratives. But when I recommend that they should start putting these ideas down on paper (or keyboard), they immediately shrug it off as if it's some kind of impossibility. It is as if they think they're completely incapable of writing down their thoughts.

I'm going to be generalizing here given my experience with these individuals, so please bear with me. As I speak with people who aren't writers about maybe becoming one, there's a few excuses (yes, that's what I will call them, 'excuses') they all tend to give me. The biggest one being, "I don't know how to. I wouldn't know where to start." The simple solution would be to just start at the beginning, but I suspect they are referring to some other underlying issue, mainly that they view taking on a task like writing a book as fairly daunting. They think that they have to commit their entire being into writing in order to get any results. Although you can invest your soul into your work, it isn't a necessity. One can start small: a blog, short stories, hell even posts on some story forums or social media story platforms could get you into the groove. You can ease into it by starting small, but at the end of the day you will still just be writing. So my best advice with those of that mindset, it literally to just write. Don't think about writing, just do it. You might find that it comes easier than you'd think.

Another excuse I hear a lot is that they don't have the time. I get it, the rat race, having kids, dealing with work and all that is very taxing. It can be fairly difficult to find time each day to put aside and jot down some fun stories. But an excuse is an excuse, and this one is no different. I'll toot my horn a bit here and say that I wrote Into the Mind of Pennywell: Plight of the Fallen (as well as my first book which shall not be named), while working a full time day job. For Pennywell, I mainly would get to work an extra 30 minutes or so and just sit out in my car cranking out a page or two, sometimes more. My point is, it can be done.

Awhile back I was talking to my gym buddy Sho Kosugi, who is a successful writer, about his process. He told me that he finds it most beneficial to simply start writing right out of bed. You wake up, do your morning routine, brushing teeth, coffee n' all that, and then you sit down and start writing. Before I spoke to him, I was mostly writing midday or evenings. It was going fine, but I found myself getting more writer's block and losing my train of thought because the day's events would be weighing on me. After speaking to Sho, I decided to give his strategy a try and I have to be honest, it was like day and night. Writing right out of bed works wonders. Your brain is rested and recharged, your body is more relaxed, and you have the energy to just be exceptionally productive. So if you wish to become a writer, I would highly recommend taking an hour or so in your mornings, maybe go to sleep earlier so you can wake up before everyone else and have no distractions, and just write. If you get ideas later in the day, jot some notes down and then go back to them in the morning.

The idea here is that you have to make time. Chances are you can. If you are doing something in your day that may be considered wasteful, steal some time from that. For instance, do you really need to watch two episodes of that next Netflix show you're binging? Or can you get away with just one and spend that extra hour writing? I'm a gamer myself, but do you really need to do that 4 hour dungeon raid and instead do a shorter one and use the extra time to build a story? Do you really need to spend time with your kids or could you just sell them to some tool manufacturing plant so they can assemble rivets and spanners? Those little hands are so valuable...anyways! My point is to make time. Get your RnR, but ultimately focus on being productive and getting into the habit of writing. Which brings me to my next point: routine.

Routine is very important for writers. Like I said, my routine is mainly to write in the mornings. Sometimes I go over and my writing will ooze into the afternoon, but I always make sure to start in the morning. At first, it was a bit rough. There would be instances of writer's block, I'd sometimes write a sentence and then just sit there for like an hour starting at the page. But as the days turned to weeks, then to months and now years, I find myself feeling somewhat 'incomplete' when I go a day without writing. And when I say 'day,' I mean weekday. I find it useful to treat it as any other career and do a Monday - Friday routine where I take weekends off...except I don't really take weekends off because I write my blogs and edit my books on weekends, but that's more choice than necessity. You get the idea. However, if I don't work on the weekends, I still feel good about myself because I still wrote throughout the entire week. All because I forced myself to make writing a part of my daily routine. Much like going to the gym...or eating.

Another excuse is that some people think they can't write because they're bad at grammar, sentence structure and all that boring crap. Truth is, I was too for a bit. I hate rules and grammar rules is not different. But then I started writing more, and reading. Those two combined allows your brain to pick up how the written word is meant to be built. Reading is very beneficial to the writing process, especially if it's the same genre you wish to dabble in. Hell, I have a useless bachelor's degree in English and I didn't even know what an 'action beat' was until my editor for Into the Mind of Pennywell explained it to me haha! At the end of the day, writing is a skill. If you want to become better at it, you have to do it. Don't let the 'what-ifs' block your innovation. Risks run the world baby! Embrace it!

What else is there, let's see...ah yes! "What if nobody likes it?" Not as common, but I still get this one occasionally. In the United States, at least, there has been this unfortunate spreading of sensitivity among our younger generations. Thanks to social media and the era of 'likes,' 'clicks,' and 'thumbs up' dopamine hits, people have mutated into these fragile husks that can only be filled with the approval and acceptance of others in order to affirm their identities. This is strange, this is new, this is real. So when I hear people have this fear of writing because someone might hate it, it irritates me because they forget about all the other people that might love it! It's one of the main reasons so many trash shows and movies are coming out lately: fear of the "what if?" You can't please everyone, don't try to. Your goal as a writer should be to express yourself, and hopefully someone out there in this wild blue world will relate and appreciate your efforts. There will always be haters out there, your job is to ignore them. Hell, you don't even have to make your writing public, maybe just do it for yourself?

Now if some offer constructive criticism, that's a different story. But you can't put too much stock into what the Twitter mob or Facebook fiends think. Have confidence in your work, and just strive to do better no matter what the feedback. We can always do better, even the best of us.

So there you have it, a few thoughts on how to get comfortable with writing. Hope it helps anybody who's on the fence about putting their cool and fun stories down on something more permanent than their mind. Remember that you're doing it for you, everyone else is just along for the ride. And there are plenty of us out there who would love to read your stories. So why not grace us with them? Up to you. But either way, the world could always use some new good stories.

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