Want To Become a Writer? Here Are Tips and Tricks To Get Started!

Due to a busy day job, school, or whatever it is, here is how you can make time.

Kasey Fu

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Book cover design concepts for my upcoming fantasy novel, which I wrote on the side while I worked full-time for Microsoft!

Whether you’re a forty-something year-old commuting home from work under a blanket of grey skies to see your family, a traveler trekking their feet across the Alpines or the Amazon, or even a student (of any age) still learning from a classroom, anyone can establish themselves as a writer, even during a busy schedule. We all know you need a proper platform to post your work, have a topic in hand, and have a plan to distribute it to the right audience.

However…

What’s not abundant is energy, motivation, and time — and that’s the key to today’s article.

Let’s dive into this through 2 categories on how you can start:

  1. Mental Steps
  2. Practical Steps

Ultimately, both angles aim to help fulfill your writing cravings.

Mental Steps

1. Turn writing into a hobby rather than “something you must get done.”

I’ll use an example for this one: Let’s say the average Bob is returning from home via train one Tuesday evening. With crowds of commuters jamming the roads, Bob prefers to ride the train home — arriving back to his kids by 7 PM.

Bob makes or eats dinner and spends some time with his kids until later in the night. Let’s assume that on average, Bob gets only 1–2 hours of free time to himself thanks to his busy work and personal life. That’s the time Bob’s been excited about: an hour or two to practice a hobby.

Replace writing with video games, music-playing, exercising/sports, producing art, building a craft, or anything in-between. Writing shouldn’t be something “you need to do, to build skills.” Writing is a fundamental human tool that one uses to output a medium which captures a topic of interest. Many writers, who are passionate about what they write about and who reads their work, do it for fun; they consider it the same as playing video games — it could be addictive.

2. Fall in love with an idea.

People write and tell stories to others because they feel they’re interesting. Will others hearing the story feel energetic, emotional, mesmerized and — for lack of a better word — moved? If I moved others with my story — be it about me, an anecdote about someone else, or about a fictional character — that would make me incredibly fulfilled.

Everyone has heartfelt ideas to share with society, and that key motivation to impact others in the aforementioned ways is what drives us. Make sure such an idea you’re flirting with is at minimum on that level, so you can state with confidence that you’re truly in love with it.

Good stories are built from decent foundations, but great stories are ones which stem from the love of the writer.

3. Conceptualize a proper ending for the story.

Knowing how your story ends may increase your own motivation to get started in reaching that point. If your story has (in your opinion) a great ending, sometimes just thinking about sharing such a journey with your audience, alongside the dopamine you would feel, is what you need to truly get started.

One of my editors told me that whenever she writes, she fleshes out both the beginning AND the ending of her story, whether it’s a novel or a one-pager. Then, just like filling up an empty sandwich, she proceeds to write the main bodies that help us achieve that said ending. Obviously not all writers follow that route — plotters would probably find it more useful than pantsers. However, it still showcases that if you have a great ending in place or inside your head, the motivation to write the words that get there can tickle you more directly.

Practical Steps

These steps may not work for everyone, but these are actionable items you can do RIGHT NOW to enhance the chances of success.

1. Schedule blocks within your calendar dedicated to writing.

This suggestion doesn’t work for all — especially pantser writers, who prefer freedom (this can apply to regular life schedules as well). But for those who already find that they operate well with a schedule or can’t live without one, this is for you. Clog up that calendar and create dedicated slots where you find a place full of peace and quiet to help concentrate on your craft!

A typical Sunday calendar for yours truly.

2. Outline and capture ideas on any notepad, and keep that notepad open all the time for you to see.

Whenever I experience a sudden idea or epiphany, I always make sure to jot it down in my digital notepad (I use Notion and the iOS Notes app). You never know when ideas will come and go — people underestimate their ability to remember cool or fascinating ideas, especially for a book!

When you’re writing a story that (eventually) grows complicated, it can be easy to lose track of ideas, character traits, dialogues, or even funny Easter eggs. Readers won’t be able to connect the dots and go “Wow, now it all makes sense!” if you don’t plot down those smart ideas in the first place, even if it starts off as a scribble on a notepad!

Lastly, what I typically recommend is to have that said notepad open or easily accessible wherever you go. Reminding yourself of the cool ideas you’ve previously jotted down can bring a real hidden boost of motivation to turn that idea or concept into a whole chapter within a book!

Taking notes and leaving them accessible 24/7 can help!

3. Establish “Writing goals.”

For those who are truly struggling to get pen to paper, I recommend aiming for numeral writing goals — for example, 500 words a day. Obviously, don’t just cap it at a certain number, otherwise it can limit one’s creativity or disrupt a state of “flow”; aim for a minimum amount. This suggestion can help writers feel “fulfilled,” even if the goal is low compared to what you’ll ideally want. Start small, and build your goal up! I started writing my fantasy novel with a goal of 500 words per night. Eventually, my mind managed to stay in a state of flow for longer periods of time, and I was able to crush at least a thousand words per day for a month or so!

4. Join various communities to feel inspired — whether that includes digital or physical locations.

I joined various discord groups dedicated to general fiction writing, as well as Original English Light Novel writing (OELNs). Additionally, I participated in a writing program which enabled me to pair with developmental editors, a copyeditor, proof readers, and even someone who could help design my book cover at a smaller cost than what it would’ve been!

Needless to say, joining any community will help push you, either from watching others make magic and desiring to make it yourself, or from practical support in the form of editing, reading, and so on! This doesn’t have to be purely digital — most cities would probably have a writing community that holds events and such; any form of networking or just getting to know others in your genre of literature can make for a greater ride than treading the path yourself!

5. Establish a designated physical “writing” space or desk for that magic to flow!

As alluded to above in step #1, picking a specific location for “work” or “writing” can be critical to helping one focus. It’s been mentioned before in numerous books — such as James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Cal Newport’s Deep Work. Whether you’re completing homework, doing other work, or need to crank out another chapter for your book, a designated working space helps signal to your brain that it’s time to focus. Environment is key, and designated places for performing tasks can help your mind function more efficiently and intuitively.

My usual writing setup to get work done!

Conclusion

Welp, that’s it for now — but there’s still a lot more suggestions and articles to come. Follow me on Medium for more writing, productivity, job, and tech tips! Check out my website and my Linktree, and add me on LinkedIn or Twitter, telling me you saw my articles!

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Kasey Fu

Product Manager @ Planview AI, Ex-Microsoft. Fiction Author and Game Producer. Follow me for PM, tech, productivity, and life advice!