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Some people are born knowing they are a writer. Others follow suggestions made by friends and family to write more. Some fall into the job ‘by accident’, with an idea that dominates their thoughts until they express every last word. More confident writers attempt bigger projects that end up as articles, short stories and novels. However, just like any tale, there is a tragedy. Some of these creative minds never reach their potential. What holds them back from becoming a writer?

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We’re all storytellers.

We seek connection with others by sharing our thoughts with others – to make them laugh, make them sympathise with us, or make them feel our outrage. We recount events with edited highlights which make our tales more entertaining, funny or memorable. If we can speak about these things, why not write them too? If ‘Writers Block’ does indeed exist, here it is, holding a potential writer back from exploring their skills. This fear is not of using an incorrect word, or dodgy spelling – that can only be considered for something actually written. Not writing is the first hurdle. Perhaps it’s the fear that they won’t do it well enough for someone else to connect with their story. This is also common to new writers, who keep their early works hidden away from judgemental eyes.

Perhaps the main differentiator between a writer and non-writer is the action of writing itself. The former unleashes their words onto a page or screen, and the latter keeps those words locked up in their imaginations. Without writing, they may think like a writer, but they can’t call themselves one. Yet.

To be a writer, one must write. Instead of a spoken conversation, it can be likened to a written account of a story – words that convey a story to a reader.

Dream of being a writer?

If you are new to writing, position yourself as a hero, just like any would-be hero of a story. A hero’s path is never straightforward, but they rise to the challenges. Before a hero can reach greatness, there are villains to defeat and problems to solve. Remember that the fear of committing words to form your first story is one of these challenges, but one you can overcome.

Also understand that you won’t get it right the first time – or the second, or even the third – because you are learning a new skill. Just like riding a bike, there’s a few grazed knees before we find balance. Experienced writers take lots of attempts to get story ideas out of their head, into some kind of order. Crossing out, re-writing, killing off characters and introducing new ones for the reader to root for. Follow the same route and your story grows, along with your writing skills. 

And your story? It can be anything you like. Inspiration can strike when you’re watching tv, or chatting with friends, or washing the dishes, or walking the dog. Since ideas can pop up at any moment, the vast array of story plots can be overwhelming – which one should you choose? Just choose one to start. Make a note of that idea, however crazy or outlandish, or seemingly ill formed. Then sit at your desk and explore that idea more. Begin by putting words together which expand on your story. Keep at it and the story unfolds, word counts rack up… and now you’re a writer!

Short Stories that work - online course by Deanne Adams, Story Coach and mentor

Of course, you might find that your story has new problems. Holes in the plot, or its characters need different personalities, or scenes need a more dramatic ending. But that gives you something else to work with – heroes always find a way through, don’t they? As a writer, you’re moving forward. Aim for progress, not perfection – now you’re learning to write well. Even the most admired authors began their career in the same way.

If you want to develop your story idea into your first short story, you’ll be interested in my online course. In it, I teach the fundamentals of keeping the action building in your story to engage your reader.

My course is delivered in three easy stages which offers practical advice on getting ideas out of your head into words on a page. It can save you when you lose the story thread, or run out of steam, too.

So – to be a writer, you must write.

To write a story, you have to start putting words down which tell a story. And you can learn to tell a story well, if you practise. That’s the secret to becoming an author. Time invested in writing is a gift that helps you become a better writer. What is stopping you from picking up a pen today?