Writing is a lot of hard work, but can be a lot of fun and very rewarding. If you want to write, go ahead!
But if you ended up here you need help. Definitely. And the person to help is the one that looks back at you in the mirror... Read on!
Hit and run
When you're hanging out in a forum, or on a discord channel, you may encounter these typical 'hit and run' messages. Most people posting such a message quickly disappear. I've exaggerated a little, perhaps, but do you recognize these? Did you post a message similar to the ones below?
I have the best idea ever but I need someone to write it for me.
I have no inspiration but I want to write a book.
I need comments. Now! Stat! Pronte! Also known as 'please review my story and I offer nothing in return.'
Yes? Now please read on. Don't be shy. I promise it's not going to hurt (well, that's a lie).
A fair word of warning though, the remainder of this post might be brutal and painfull... but if you can be honest to yourself, you just might become the writer you want to be. So, let's start with being very, very honest, okay?
(Disclaimer: I'm Dutch, and I must live up to the Dutch reputation of being being balls-to-the-walls direct, if not outright blunt.)
Yes, this is going to hurt. This isn't going to be nice. But if you are serious about writing, then you can take it... Let's start with your biggest mistake (but there's more, keep reading).
Do you think somebody else will do all the work for you?
No. They won't.
Writing is hard, and most writers work very hard on putting their thoughts into words, and then make those words look good. They have time to help you, but they are not going to do your work.
In other words: you have to do the majority of the work yourself.
It's almost rude asking a stranger to do your work, isn't it? Perhaps he or she has something better to do.
I need ideas and inspiration
You can't write a book without an idea.
Perhaps the 1% inspiration 99% transpiration rule still applies, so the majority of the work is the writing. Still, if you don't know what you want to write then you simply can't start writing.
That doesn't mean you can't find something to write about. Find a topic or invent characters, borrow ideas, look for writing prompts. You'll find many on the internet.
Just don't go into a Discord chat channel and assume people will give you a golden idea that you will turn into the next bestseller.
So, here's a link to give you some ideas:
Now there's nothing wrong with bouncing ideas around. Start with a piece of paper, and write down some of the things you like, then circle those you'd like to write about.
If the page stays empty... perhaps writing might not be the best hobby for you. (I told you, I would be awfully honest.) But, if that page fills up with words, you just might have started your best book ever.
If you have a rough idea, then take it to a forum or Discord channel. Just don't ask for ready-to-write story concepts. It just doesn't work that way.
I have a great idea but need someone to write it for me
Unless you pay someone to do so, it's not going to happen. Personally, I find posting such a question in a channel or on a forum outright insulting, you're basically stating:
'I'm smarter than you, all my ideas are the best, and I'm lazy. Go and stop what you are doing and write my story, slave.'
Let's face it. Writing is hard work. Professional writers need to produce 300..500 words an hour to pay the monthly bills, and then they still have to get their stuff sold. Your idea, no matter how great, isn't theirs. And they're already busy.
Now let's be very blunt. How great is your idea? Is it something you like to read? Is it something you like? Your greatest idea ever might not be something that sells well, and a writer needs stuff to sell to make some money. And maybe your idea is simply crap. I know many of mine are 😅
That hurts, doesn't it? But hold on! Don't give up yet. Why don't you write it yourself? Why don't you take your own idea and turn it into your own story? If the idea is great you won't mind not only taking the credit for the idea, but for the writing as well.
It's no problem asking for help when having issues with the art of writing, that's a very different question and many people will be willing to help you out. Just don't ask them to write your story.
Turn the idea into a story
Different writers use different methods. Here are three:
1. Start with a scene. Build a scene in your mind, with the characters you want to build your story around. Then start asking yourself questions. Who are they? Why are they there? What happened before? What will happen next? Keep asking, and you'll end up with a 'theme' upon which to build your story. When the scene is ready, you could simply start moving things without a plan. It's a bit risky and you might have to do some retrofitting, but works well for many people. This type of writer is often called a 'pantser'.
2. Start with a plot. Your story takes the characters from one moment in time all the way to another moment in time, and in between things happen. Define the starting point. Define the ending point. Now identify everything that must happen to get from start to finish. Break down that long plot into smaller elements, and break down those into smaller elements yet again. You'll end up with a detailed plot, that needs to be converted to a story.
3. Start with a message. Your story is primarily intended to explain or convey an idea, a concept, and everything inside the story is part of that message. I have no idea how to do that, sorry :-)
Regardless of what road you take, I strongly suggest to play the 'why' game. Ask yourself every time 'why' your characters do something, what brought them there, what they would do and why they would do it.
Here's a free Google search, you'll find much better explanations than mine:
I need comments. Now! Pronte! Stat!
Free for nothing... What are you? A Millenial? 😉
Why would someone read your work? Why would they spend precious time on reviewing your chapter(s) / book(s)? They do so because they either like your story, or are nice people. Not because you harass them! (I told you I wouldn't be nice.)
So, ask for help with a paragraph, try to start small. Don't expect people to help you instantly. Why not offer your help and comments to them first. And then, perhaps later, after having shown you are a nice person, then they can do the same thing for you in return.
You might consider Scribophile when looking for instant feedback...
You do my spell checks and punctuation!
No. I won't. No, I wont. No, I wont.
You think I have nothing better to do? See all the other reasons in this post why asking someone to do your spell checks and punctuation, for free, is almost insulting...
I'm going to be rich
No. Forget it.
Yes. But not by writing.
Every 5 minutes a new book shows up on Amazon. Many of those are professionally edited, flawless English prose, and many of those writers are lucky if they sell a few hundred copies. The majority sells 20 to friends and family, and that's it.
You may need to write 10 books a year, work 40 hours a week, do your own marketing and sales, and still make little more than the average school teacher (and there's nothing wrong with that, just don't expect yachts, private jets, and extended stays at the Park Hyatt). And that's only if you're successful.
If you want to be rich, you may want to consider other avenues.
That doesn't mean you cannot be successful! But it will take lots of hard work, and your first ten novels will probably suck and be rubbish. But you just might make it...
Just don't expect it to be easy.
I'm going to be popular
If you plan to become a popular writer, with millions of readers, you'll not only have to write a good story, but you have to find the right readers. That is very hard on saturated platforms like Wattpad.
You also must carefully think about what you are going to write. It may not be the story that you want to write. To become popular you must write what people want to read, no matter how horrible or bad.
Is that what you want? Then go for it!
Writing for fun
Why not? Go ahead! This is actually a very good reason to start writing, but be honest to yourself. It might be a lonely hobby, if you can't find readers nor monetary compensation...
If you plan to have others read what you wrote, then consider mastering some writing techniques. They're worth it.
I'm not a good writer myself, but perhaps the following posts may be of help to you:
I strongly suggest to read that first link. It saves other people a lot of pain.
Still here? You're stubborn 😅
But perhaps you're made of the right stuff, and you were able to handle my not-so-nice words (I herewith apologize for them). Welcome, thy aspirant wannabe writer!
See if the nice people on this Discord channel can help you out:
Or try a forum like Wacky Writers: