Frank McGinty     author and teacher

“I’d Love To Write!’’

This is something I hear from people all the time. writing pads

So, for all you aspiring writers, here are a few tips. If they’re helpful, that’s great.

If they’re not, keep looking around. Check out other writers’ websites. Somewhere along the line you’ll definitely pick up some things that will work for you.

If you’re a school or college student you’ve got a definite advantage. You write all the time. Think of all those essays and reports you do in English, History and almost every other subject nowadays. What are they if not writing?

The first tip for aspiring writers, then, is just to write.

That’s it.

Write words! Every day if possible, build up the habit of writing down ANYTHING THAT COMES TO MIND.

Thoughts, feelings, ideas, a diary or journal - it doesn’t matter.

girl writingJust put that pen to paper and keep it moving. Don’t plan it; don’t structure it, just WRITE.

This is a great exercise for overcoming inhibitions and bypassing taboos. It’s great, too, for dredging up old
memories - and many of these can either be used later, or can lead to different ideas for your creative writing.

This is exactly what I did for my three teenage novels, and I’ve lots of ideas lined up for more.

Many years ago, though, I used to sit down to ‘plan’ a story. Big mistake! No ideas ever came to me. I concluded that I had no talent for writing, so I concentrated on my main job, which was teaching.

It was only when I took the tried-and-tested advice and wrote down something every day - even if it was nonsense - that I built up my writing confidence and ideas began to flow.

Try it!

Here’s another tip.

Watch what you say to yourself about your writing ability! I was speaking to a young woman recently and (like many other people) she said she had always wanted to write. She went on, "I’m sure I never will though."undefined

She was quite taken aback when I replied, "Yes, you probably never will!" But she came to realise that if you don’t believe you can or will do something, then the chances are it’s not going to happen.

So to succeed you have to - at the very least - entertain the possibility that if you try, you can develop your
skills. A blank refusal to recognise your ability will get you nowhere!

It might be helpful if I tell you how my writing developed.

As I said, years ago I wanted to write - but no, I was ‘stuck’ for ideas. Years later I tried the first tip I gave you (just pushing that pen for a few minutes every day).

Then I began to put together some articles and short stories. Most were never published, but some were.

Then a breakthrough! I was teaching a lesson in Personal & Social Education. Afterwards a girl asked me if I was 'writing a book about that positive stuff?'

Two seconds later I replied, 'Er . . . yes, I am!'

Now, when the girl asked the question
(and to this day I don’t know why she did!),
I had no intention of writing any such book.

But the answer I gave was no lie. In two seconds it hit me. Why shouldn’t I write a ‘positive’ book? After all, in my lessons I was giving lots of ideas and telling lote of stories on that very topic.

That night I took a large flipchart sheet and ‘brainstormed’ the possibilities. The result, eventually, was my first book Smart Thinking.

This was followed by Take The Sting Out of Study, and quite a few people told me they liked the ‘little stories’ in it.

Those comments led me to my next project. Why not tackle fiction? By now I was doing my ‘writing exercises’ every day - just pushing that pen, remember? - and I came up with the main characters and plot for Another Life.

But what if the ideas for a story
- to say nothing of the locations and the characters -
don’t spring readily to mind?

Well, usually they don’t, for me at least. Read on!

The Writing Process

                          kid writing

What’s the link between ideas for stories, the Internet and slices of toast?

Imaging clicking on to a website. Unless you have the highest speed Broadband - and most people don’t - it will take some time for the pages to download completely. They will appear in bits and pieces, and pictures will probably be the last to click in.

Writing stories is a bit like that! You can have ideas for some parts of it; perhaps the setting or some characters or maybe even an outline of the plot - but they may all ‘click in’ at different times. And the colourful incidents - the pictures of the website, if you like - may take that bit longer to come.

This is nothing to worry about. Just work round them. You can have a session or two where you brainstorm some possibilities.

Leave them . . . Let them mull over in your mind, possibly before you fall asleep. Then, you’ll be amazed at how, usually quite unexpectedly, they just CLICK IN. Be patient!

Give the ideas time to mature. Like slices of toast in a toaster, they’ll pop up when they’re good and ready.

Above all, enjoy your writing.

If you become tense and try too hard, it probably won’t work. Even if you’re writing about something quite harrowing, try to relax. The experience of writing, as you may know already, is both beneficial and satisfying.

You'd love to write? Then get writing!

Good luck!

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