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April 18, 2018

I WANT TO WRITE, BUT HOW?!

Hi Nikki,

I really love writing, so I want to write a story in my notebook. The only thing is that I don’t have any inspiration and I never like what I write. What should I do?

Wannabe Writer

Dear Wannabe Writer,

SQUEEEE! I’m SO glad you asked this! 🙂 

I know that Rachel Renee Russell, the lady who helps me get my diaries published, RECEIVES a LOT of questions about where she gets her inspiration. And while my diaries are all about my REAL ACTUAL life, I love writing made-up stories too!

So, let’s talk about inspiration. (Sometimes people also say “where do you get your ideas?” It’s kind of the same thing.)

Inspiration is EVERYHERE! I think it’s more about learning to see the potential story in things. Here are some places I have found inspiration for stories:

  1. People watching/eavesdropping: There’s SO much inspiration to be found in the people around you. Both people you know and people you don’t. Hang out in a park, mall or wherever, and observe people. Imagine what’s happening in their lives. Imagine what their biggest problems are, and what their biggest dreams are. When it’s not rude and obvious, listen in on conversations. 
  2. Using classic stories or characters & worlds you love: Do you remember when you were a kid and there were like fourteen different versions of Cinderella in the picture book section of the library? Writers have been retelling their own versions of classic stories as far back as Shakespeare and even earlier. You might also know this as “fan fiction.” You can write about the characters other authors have created and invent new worlds, or create new characters in worlds other authors have invented. 
  3. Using events from your life: Writing a diary is a whole other thing, but sometimes you can use things from your life as inspiration for fiction. Maybe write about the way you WISH something had turned out. Maybe write about something you’re scared of or frustrated about. Sometimes in telling the story as fiction, we get a new perspective on stuff.
  4. Inspiration from the news or current events: There’s SO much inspiration in the news. Sure, a lot of it is sad/scary stuff. But maybe that’s what you want to write. And anyway, I don’t just mean like politics and world news. I mean ANYTHING that happens in the world around you! 
  5. Writing prompts: If you search online for creative writing prompts, you’ll get a TON of ideas. This isn’t cheating! You’re still the one who will put in the work and creativity to write the story. There’s nothing wrong with a little help getting started!

Now, the second part of your question talked about not liking the progress you make when you write a story. The MOST important thing to remember is that this is COMPLETELY normal! A story always starts with a first draft. And first drafts are usually TERRIBLE!

I think sometimes we think revision just means fixing spelling or grammar mistakes. It DOESN’T! Fiction writers write first drafts that have huge plot holes ( a.k.a. mistakes in the story or things that don’t make sense) and characters they end up cutting or adding. The thing is to allow yourself to write a terrible first draft. Then you look at it and see what you like and what it needs to get better, and then you revise. Sometimes you might revise several times before it gets close to the story you want to tell. 

So, don’t expect it to be perfect. Or even good. Just write because it’s fun. Maybe you’ll make it better later. Maybe you won’t! But above all, you should have fun when you’re writing. 

I hope that helps! 

Hey readers, what helpful tips do you have for writing a good story? Include some suggestions in the comments!