Forget all those writing gurus on the Internet who advise you to put your head down, hit the keyboard, and ignore everything else to publish your first article.
They can't empathise with your anxieties, your insecurities or your Imposter Syndrome.
"How can I write an article if I don't have something to write about?" you ask.
And they reply with well-meaning things like "Write whatever you fancy" or "Don't lose hope".
But it doesn't work.
Truth is - most experts can't remember what it's like to be a beginner. It's not your fault that these answers don't help you when you feel overwhelmed by the monolithic goal of writing your first article.
As a beginner, you need small goals that can give you immediate feedback. Achieving short, increasingly difficult goals builds your momentum and keeps you motivated to reach a higher level.
I have broken down the hurdles of writing well into 5 short, increasingly difficult levels.
You start at Level-0. This lesson will teach you how to advance to Level-1.
The Hurdles of Level-1
The 1st level of learning to write well is about self-confidence.
This level presents 2 hurdles:
Hurdle #1. Finding the confidence to capture your thoughts
"I don't have anything to say."
You have heard people say that you can write about anything you want but you are still paralysed by a lack of ideas. You feel that you are too small or don't have anything important to write about. You doubt that maybe you just aren't interesting like that.
You simply cannot find the confidence to capture your thoughts.
This lack of confidence is rooted in the way they teach you writing at school.
Hurdle #2. Giving yourself permission to write what you want
School has conditioned you to believe that you need permission to write about something - that you must write what the teacher wants. To get good grades, you had to write what was prescribed instead of what you wanted.
Therefore, you haven't realised that you write your best when you write about something that you're excited about.
You aren't alone.
Overcoming the hurdles to finish Level-1
As a beginner, most of us find it difficult to unschool ourselves and confidently capture our internal ideas.
I did too.
The key is to start small and write your own story.
If I could go back 3 years in time to give myself advice on overcoming these hurdles, here's what I would say:
1. Write about things that you can speak about.
What's something that you can talk to a friend about for 10 minutes, nonstop? Think.
And there you have one thing you can write about!
We can often speak at length about things that we care about. It is these topics that make the most passionate writing.
Understand that you have the freedom to follow your natural inclinations.
And, don't worry about being unoriginal.
Remember, if you're completely honest, completely vulnerable, you will never go mainstream.
2. All good writing is narcissistic.
If you're like me, you are afraid of confidently writing your thoughts because you fear coming off as narcissistic.
"How self-obsessed would I look if I wrote down the stupid ideas in my head?"
You know what, this is what good writers do all the time. It works because when people share their experiences with truth, it creates a more empathetic world.
Yes, I'm telling you that writing your "stupid ideas" can improve the world.
But we aren't conditioned to feel comfortable in sharing our thoughts with lots of people. And sadly, there's no instant cure.
Yet, a step in the right direction involves the power of permission. So, I'm giving you the permission to be narcissistic in writing down your thoughts and experiences.
Those golden thoughts you have, are often golden for real.
This lesson advanced you to the 1st level of writing well.
In the next few days, I'll publish lessons to take you through more levels. So, follow me on Dev.to and on Twitter to get the updates.
You can also sign up for the Clear Writing, Clear Thinking email workshop to get everything over email.
Along with the lessons, the workshop also contains small tasks that you can complete to practice what you learned.
I'm giving it all away for free!
Oldest comments (1)
This is the best advice on writing I have ever heard! (and my mom's an english teacher haha)