Several people have told me they’re interested in writing stories or books but don’t know how to go about it. I’ll try to give so helpful advice.

First, writing a full length novel can be daunting. It can seem too big, an impossible task. But as the saying goes–‘How do you eat an elephant?’ One bite at a time. Don’t expect your first attempt to be perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with it at times. All writers go through struggles. All writers try things that don’t work, have to delete sections, and yet they keep plugging along, if they’re serious about writing. Perseverance will get you there.

Second, pick a topic or genre or type of story you’re interested in. It can be anything. Your first attempts at writing may be only for your eyes, so you can do whatever you want. You can try writing short stories or articles, or you can try a novel or novella (short novel). Whatever you choose, don’t worry about the grammatical correctness, punctuation, etc. while writing the first draft.

Third, something that has always worked for me is creating a storyboard or timeline document on my computer. Give the document a title and a date. In the document, start with your initial idea or write a bunch of ‘what if’ ideas. Keep going. If you come up with an idea you like, try expanding it. Keep adding ideas until you come up with a potential plot idea that you want to try. Once you get the idea, start creating your main characters, your setting, etc. List those characters and give them personality traits, physical descriptions, birth dates, etc. This document will be the place where you can continue building your story idea, keep your notes, write a brief outline or synopsis if you want. You’ll want to refer to it often and update it when you change something. Each time you make changes to the document, save it with a new date. That way, if you want to go back to an earlier plan, you’ll still have the older files to go back to.

Fourth, write your story. Get your story down on computer¬† or on paper. You may have days when you get stuck, when you know where the story is supposed to eventually go, but you don’t know what needs to happen next (toward the protagonist’s ultimate goal and story end). That’s okay. You might need to let the story percolate in you brain awhile. But try to write as often as you can. Later on, once you get a first draft finished and know that the basic story works, you can go back and make changes, add in more detail, add some new characters or take some out, rearrange scenes, if needed, etc. Your first draft is your framework.

Fifth, after you get your story (or novel) written, let it sit for a week. Rest. Pat yourself on the back. You did it. Then, go back to the beginning and read it, making revisions as you go along. Smooth out those rough sentences, add in more detail or dialogue, fix grammatical errors and typos. You’ll probably need multiple rounds of rewrites.

Personally, I encourage you to read books about writing, about grammar and punctuation, etc. I’ve read dozens of those books. Most of them are helpful, and some are motivational/inspiring. Whatever you do, though, the most important thing is ‘don’t give up’. Keep writing. Keep learning. And enjoy.