This is how you do it…

I knew it was time to sort out my room when I couldn’t get the door open without sending a pile of box files flying in the process. Once I’d got the door open, I couldn’t see the carpet for stacks of paperwork and photos. Not to mention the heap of writing magazines I’d been meaning to go through since the New Year.

After an industrious week of sorting and filing, de-cluttering and binning, what did I still need to go through? Those writing magazines.

So, over the last few days, I’ve been skimming through pages of advice on such writerly matters as crafting a short story, avoiding the pitfalls of clichéd characterisation and understanding point of view. If you need tips on keeping fit when most of your waking hours are spent hunched over a keyboard surrounded by cups of coffee and packets of biscuits, (I wish!) then look no further.

But if one anxiety emerges from the pages of these magazines, it’s this: how do I get started?

Worrying about having the right kit (or write kit?) can become an excuse not to start writing – a bit like putting off that trip to the gym until you’ve got the right tracksuit/t- shirt/trainers.

I’m a stationery addict – as I discovered when I tidied my ‘office’. I will never again need to buy paper/clips/folders/plastic sleeves because I’ve already got a roomful! But who hasn’t bought a lovely new notebook because it’ll inspire them to get cracking on That Great English Novel? Before I had a computer, I used to write longhand on yellow legal pads, and was thrilled to bits to discover that American thriller writer John Grisham (among others) also wrote in longhand on yellow legal pads. I was in such good company!

What emerges from the pages of those writing magazines is this: there’s no ‘right’ way to start writing: just do it, and keep on doing it. You’ll get better, you’ll exercise that writing muscle (even if your gluteus maximus gets a bit flabby with all that sitting around) and eventually you’ll realize you are, despite your earlier fears, A Writer. Even if you aren’t wearing the right trainers.

I’ve tidied my room up now. I’ve discovered stuff I thought I’d lost, and I’ve filed away lots of stuff I found.

The best advice in those writing magazines? Write, get your work out there, join a circle that will give you honest feedback and learn from it. Joining Frome Writers’ Collective would be a good place to start, if you’re in the area – otherwise, find your own local writing group and give it a go. Don’t worry if you haven’t got the right trainers.

Nikki Copleston

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