Whether you’re an old hand or a newbie who is serious about learning to write, the advice is the same: dig in and get that first book out of you.

The do it yourself (DIY) phenomenon is about taking matters into your own hand. Projects around the house or garden? Do them yourself. Pick up new skills. Get new experiences. Do it your way.

We all need creative outlets. Some people paint, some play music, some rip down walls or build fireplaces. We constantly seek to improve our lives, and this includes upgrading the environment in which we live.

This positive energy can involve brain, heart, and soul projects too – like writing a book. Writing epitomizes this special kind of DIY.

You may never intend to show your writing to anyone. Or you want to do just enough to gain entrance to the writers group at your local library – or local pub. Or you just want to indulge yourself and give it a try to see if you’re any good. Maybe you used to write when you were younger and it’s time to get back to it.

Whatever your writing goal or motivation, you don’t have to aim to go professional to benefit; you just need to put some time into it.

Writing is a great hobby. It keeps the mind fresh, brings new meaning to the world, and it can be therapeutic. Like any hobby, it can also become addictive. That’s the best kind of hobby – one you truly enjoy. Best of all, it’s super easy to get started: just grab paper and pen or boot up that laptop.

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You don’t even have to be any good, you just have to make personal gains. And who knows? You might just prove to be an inspired storyteller.

Looking at writing from this vantage point is also a way to free up serious writers from the enormity of the tasks at hand when it comes to writing a book. Even though you are working on your breakthrough novel, you can still take time out to have fun. A scribble here, a jot or two there. You can indulge a bit of hobby writing for stress relief and a reminder of how writing should inspire, be deeply creative, and downright good for the soul.

Get that book out of you

Whether you’re an old hand or a newbie who is serious about learning to write, the advice is the same: dig in and get that first book out of you. After you do, you can take the time to learn to write better – and any writing you do will help along the way.

Getting stuck and breaking through, or writing fluently and experiencing new successes are equally great teachers. No amount of study or learning can replace sheer, mad writing for gaining experience.

Need more reasons to write? Try these:

Once you’ve written a book, you’ve proven you can do it. You have a book to show for it. You’ve joined the club. You’ve shown discipline. Even if you never show it to anyone, it’s still a major life achievement.

In starting your book, you stirred up a thousand questions in your mind about writing. By slogging on, you’ve likely answered most of them.

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With a finished product to show others, you can now grow and benefit from feedback, a great way to discover and understand your weaknesses and strengths. How well have you gotten your story across to readers?

You are now in the exalted position to consider publishing. Just think carefully about whether it’s in your best interest. Many great authors put their first book, and plenty of others, under the bed and out of sight. Only then are they ready to start the book that will push them into the end zone.

When you finish your first book… you are ready to start your second! In writing your first, you will improve your literary fluency. It’s possible your second book will fly by and prove even more rewarding.

By writing that first book you do yourself a huge favour. You get the job done, set yourself up for doing it better the next time around, learn a lot, and – best of all – become your own teacher. With a book in hand, you have the foundation for learning to improve from a position of privilege: as an author.

And in the end, it all comes down to the truth that nothing feels quite so good as finishing what you set out to accomplish.

Dawn Field

Dr. Dawn Field is a book lover interested in what makes great writing. After a 20 year career as a research scientist, her first book, Biocode, was published by Oxford University Press. Now a columnist of The Double Helix, Dr. Field is exploring new writing venues and writing a second book. Based in Virginia, Dr. Field is looking to collaborate with a range of fiction writers as a writing coach, editor, and consultant on the publishing process: fiedawn@gmail.com.


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