What do I need to learn before I can begin to write?
Nothing! Sit down and write.
I say that and people look at me like I just came here from Mars. There are rules, there are formatting issues, there is structure to be learned, there are things to learn about how a story is supposed to develop. There are a TON of things to learn.
This stuff is not writing. These things are editing. Good books are not created by writing, good books are created by good editing. But guess what? You can’t edit a book that is not underway. Chances are if you sit in writing workshops or take a writing class, or any of these things and have not at least started trying to write, the things you hear will not make a lot of sense. You won’t know the questions you need to ask. Once you start writing then you begin to see what you need to learn and the questions you need to ask.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a book-signing where people haven’t come up and said “I’ve always wanted to write a book.” I always respond, “So why haven’t you?”
If you want to write, sit down and do it. Why take classes or get training if you find out you don’t like doing it? Or if you find out you really have nothing to say or don’t have stories that you feel compelled to tell. That’s the starting point, imagination, the desire to do it. And that can’t be taught to you, that has to be something that is already in you.
I’m not knocking writing courses and workshops and writer’s groups. Success is virtually impossible without using these things to move forward once you are started. They will help you develop once you are underway. But if you want to write, quit reading this blog right now and get out a sheet of paper or open a blank page in your word processor and open your mind to what you have on your heart and your mind that you want to say.
The way to start writing . . . is to start writing.